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Festive Fun Brings A Little Magic

Thursday, 18 December 2014

While many of us escape our regular routines for the comfort of family and friends over Christmas, others are escaping domestic violence, life on the streets, or the grip of an alcohol or other drug problem. We spoke to three Perth community services about how they celebrate the festive season with residents.

Christmas decorations and tree at Cyrenian House Therapeutic Community
Cyrenian House Therapeutic Community gets festive

Cyrenian House Therapeutic Community

During a recent intake assessment, Shonna Grant learnt that a new resident at the Cyrenian House Therapeutic Community didn't think he would survive another Christmas if not in treatment.

"He hoped he'd be here for Christmas," says Shonna, who manages Cyrenian House's residential alcohol and other drug services.

New residents, and residents for whom it will not be safe to leave the Therapeutic Community, remain at the centre over Christmas, while many senior residents will spend Christmas with family elsewhere. Family members are also welcome to come in to the Therapeutic Community at Christmas.

"Staff, former residents and family members join residents on Christmas Day to celebrate and to enjoy lunch," says Shonna. "When families come they'll bring a dish so there's a variety of foods, it's multicultural."

Christmas can be a challenging time for many people who experience problems related to alcohol and drug use.

"Often family members don't understand that their loved one can't drink and remain in our program," says Shonna. "We offer to write a letter for residents to give to family members that explains their treatment and what it means for them at Christmas time."

Residents are also encouraged to consider how Christmas and the New Year may impact on their treatment.

"We ask residents to think about how they can stay safe during the festive season, now and in the future," says Shonna.

The Therapeutic Community celebrates Christmas in many ways and makes sure that no one misses out on a present, including children, adults who have no one else, and for the children of adult residents.

"We provide a Christmas Hamper to families living at the Saranna Women's and Children's Program and we take the children to check out the Christmas lights," says Shonna.

While Christmas can be a challenge for many people, Shonna says that some residents remember their best Christmases as the ones they shared at the Therapeutic Community.

St Bartholomew's House
St Bartholomew's House Aged Care Christmas Party

St Bartholomew's House staff and residents will celebrate the festive season with a pre-Christmas barbecue at Lime Street in East Perth. The barbecue will involve 148 residents, including people in crisis and transitional accommodation, aged care, and independent living services.

"We've held Christmas lunches in the metro Perth area for our Mental Health Support Services clients," says Manager Community Engagement at St Bartholomew's House Laura Yau. "We've also hosted a 'flash mob' style carol singing event for our aged care residents and a family and children Christmas Party for our Barts Plus and Housing Services residents."

 Orana House

"At least two of the six families currently living at Orana House won't have anywhere safe to go for Christmas," says Orana House Assistant Manager Regina Collier. "We cook a Christmas lunch, give presents, and sit down with families to eat."

The women and children at Orana House are escaping domestic and family violence.

"People do stay out with families but some people have no one to go to - there always is every Christmas," says Regina. "We try and keep it very positive, try to start some new traditions that they can follow on with later."

Orana House also welcomes back clients who have been with the service during the year for a pre-Christmas Party.

People feel the loss of relationships and family more acutely during the festive season.

"Holiday times do bring out the losses people have experienced, people do grieve at this time," says Regina. "We try to bring a little bit of magic back to a bad time in their lives."

"We have fun for the kids, wear silly t-shirts, enjoy a meal together, sing Christmas carols and make it the best we can make it."

Christmas Lunch in the Park

If you live in Perth, you're not alone this Christmas - Mission Australia welcomes all members of the community to its annual Christmas Lunch in the Park (CLIP 2014) on Thursday 25 December (Christmas Day). For more information, visit: www.christmaslunchinthepark.com.au

Do You Need Support Over The Festive Season?

If you're experiencing difficulties over the festive season and need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. ;The Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) will be open to take calls over the festive season 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call ADIS on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024.

Celebrating 30 Years as the Independent Voice of the WA Alcohol and other Drug Sector

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

In the early 1980s not-for-profit alcohol and other drug services looked very different. Driven by passionate people, often desperate to make a difference in the lives of people with alcohol and other drug-related problems, the services ran out of old houses with few paid staff.

While services maintained a common purpose, their approaches diverged - a source of conflict in the fledgling
Terry Murphy and Rev George Davies 
sector as workers scrambled to help the best way they knew how.

"We worked out of an old house owned by Main Roads, before they extended Newcastle Street," recalled WANADA Chairperson Terry Murphy of his early days in the sector.

With non-government organisations treating 80% of the client population with limited staff and only 20% of the alcohol and other drug funding, the sector needed an independent and unified voice

In 1984, the not-for-profit organisations put differences aside to form the Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA).

Improving the quality and efficiency of services was a high priority.

WANADA CEO Jill Rundle says that the foresight of WANADA's original members has resulted in a professional sector that serves people with alcohol and other drug-related issues across WA.

"Our membership is still diverse, with services including Therapeutic Communities, in-home drug and alcohol withdrawal, individual and group counselling, and needle and syringe exchange programs," says Jill. "Our unifying goal remains to improve the lives of people who may experience problems related to alcohol and other drug use."

Rev George Davies, along with current WANADA Chairperson Terry Murphy were both original members of WANADA's Executive Committee. At WANADA's 30th birthday celebrations in November, Rev Davies said that the sector has experienced "massive growth" over the last 30 years, remembering a time when services had only a handful of workers.

Community need has seen the establishment of more services, including peer-based organisation WASUA, the Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Service and Local Drug Action Groups.

"Services are now much more willing to work in partnership," says Jill. "We can see a huge difference, with agencies offering professional, evidence-based services, many of which are accredited against the Standard on Culturally Secure Practice (Alcohol and other Drug Sector)."

The sector, with WANADA, has weathered many changes, including changes in government, population increases, and changes in the culture around alcohol and other drug use..

"The Community Drug Summit in 2001 was just one of many significant events in our history because it raised awareness of drug use issues," says Jill. "Awareness raising must be ongoing to combat stigma and discrimination, which is still a barrier to people seeking support and information."

"Unless the community has some level of understanding, we won't see a reduction in stigma," says Jill. "We still have a long way to go."

Jeanette, Jill and Carol celebrate 30 years of WANADA with mocktails.
Jeanette Fernandez (The Salvation Army Bridge Programme), Jill Rundle (WANADA) and Carol Daws (Cyrenian House) celebrate WANADA's 30th Birthday with mocktails.

Do You Have A Memory To Share?

We welcome your comments and memories of the alcohol and other drug sector over the 30 years of WANADA's history. Please leave your comments below, or email drugpeak@wanada.org.au

Nutrition and exercise important for alcohol and other drug treatment

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Alcohol and other drug use can impact our overall health and wellbeing. When you want to make a change in relation to alcohol and other drug use, it's important to consider nutrition and exercise.


Alcohol or other drug use can have a negative impact on the ingestion and absorption of nutrients through changes in appetite, damage to the digestive tract and increased loss of nutrients. Poor diet can contribute to the mental health issues that commonly occur alongside alcohol or other drug use. Deficiencies in essential nutrients, such as B Vitamins, may also exacerbate the negative effects of alcohol or other drugs.

Side effects of drug detoxification including vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite may be alleviated with appropriate nutrition as detailed in the 'Healthy Eating for Wellbeing' guide available from WANADA.


The benefits of exercise for good health are well known. For people who have problems with alcohol and other drug use, exercise is particularly beneficial. Exercise reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood. It also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. A recent study found exercise has a protective effect on the brain from alcohol damage.

Exercise is also recommended during the alcohol or other drug withdrawal process to help provide an outlet for cravings or urges.

Healthy Eating for Wellbeing and Circuit Training Guides

Recognising the importance of diet and exercise in the alcohol and other drug sector WANADA, with funding from FARE, has created healthy eating and exercise guides for alcohol and other drug agencies and their consumers.

The colourful and easy-to-use Healthy Eating for Wellbeing guides provide information on nutrients affected by alcohol and other drug use, tips for dealing with side effects when undergoing rehabilitation, a section on healthy weight loss and healthy weight gain, meal planning information, nutrition guidelines and information on eating disorders.

The Circuit Training guide provides information on how to design a circuit training routine with recommended exercises and pictures to demonstrate each exercise.

More Information

The three-booklet set of Health and Wellbeing guides is available for purchase from WANADA. Download the  order form for more information, or please call (08) 6365 6365 or email drugpeak@wanada.org.au

Chanelle Smith is a Curtin University Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion student on placement at WANADA. 

Where To Stick It - Safely Disposing of Needles & Syringes

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The WA Substance Users Association (WASUA) reports that it received 1, 486, 175 used needle and syringes at its exchange service in 2013/14 - a return rate of 98%. Clearly, most people who inject drugs are keen to safely dispose of used equipment - but what do you do if you find a discarded needle and syringe in a public place?

Don't Panic

A safe disposal box for used needles and syringes.

"Don't panic," says Mikayla-Jay McGinley, WASUA's Hepatitis C Educator and Safe Disposal Worker. "You're able to dispose of the needle and syringe with minimal risk."

Do Something - Here's How

If there isn't a safe disposal box nearby, the WA Department of Health offers clear instructions on how to safely dispose of needles and syringes.

"Needles and syringes should only be handled from the plunger end of the syringe and carefully placed in a rigid, plastic container that can be tightly sealed," says Mikayla-Jay. "Once sealed, you can then place the container into a domestic rubbish bin - not a recycling bin."

Contact WASUA
WASUA welcome calls about discarded needles and syringes because it helps them to learn more about people who could benefit from the information they offer.

"Most people who are using are up with information on blood-borne viruses and safer injecting habits," says Mikayla-Jay. "There are small pockets of users who may not have information about safer injecting and safe disposal, and we need to get information and resources out to those groups."

What Are The Risks?

According to the WA Department of Health, to date there hasn't been a documented case of a person contracting HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C from a needlestick injury that occurred in a community setting (such as a park or beach) in WA. The risk is considered to be very low.

While there is a minimal risk of infection from touching used needles and syringes, there may be people in the community - for example, children - who will not be aware of the risks or the distress that a needle stick injury could cause them or their family. Save someone else some stress and if you see a discarded needle or syringe, take care to dispose of it safely.

For people who inject drugs, it's important not to share any injecting equipment - not just needles and syringes - because the risk of blood-borne virus infection is higher.

Clean Needles & Syringes  - Information on Safer Injecting

 If you want to know where to go for clean needles and syringes, there are several options in metropolitan and regional WA.

The WA Substance Users' Association offers a needle and syringe exchange and other services in the Perth CBD. The WA AIDS Council also offers a mobile needle and syringe exchange in the Perth metropolitan area, while HepatitisWA also offer a needle and syringe program in Northbridge.

WASUA also offers needle and syringe exchange in the south west, while the South Metro Community Drug Service (Palmerston) operates an exchange in Mandurah and the Midwest Community Drug Service offers an exchange in Geraldton. A needle and syringe program is also available in the Great Southern through the Great Southern Community Alcohol and Drug Service (Palmerston). Check the Green Book Directory of Alcohol and other Drug and Mental Health Services in WA for contact details. Local hospitals, WA Health Population Health and chemists may also be able to help.

More Information

For more information about the safe disposal of needles and syringes, about safer injecting or blood-borne viruses, please contact the WA Substance Users Association on (08) 9321 2877.

Drug and Alcohol Office and Mental Health Commission Amalgamation - What Will It Mean For You?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Drug and Alcohol Office and Mental Health Commission are set to amalgamate in the coming months. Mental Health Commissioner Tim Marney and Drug and Alcohol Office Executive Director Neil Guard briefed the alcohol and other drug sector on what the amalgamation will mean for services and consumers on Tuesday 16 September 2014.

Over 75 representatives from the alcohol and other drug sector attended to learn more about how the new agency will function and what it will mean for their services and for people who experience problems related to alcohol and other drug use.

Mental Health Commissioner Tim Marney assured non-government alcohol and other drug services that there should be no change to the way they deliver services to the community.

Drug and Alcohol Office Executive Director Neil Guard said that the functions currently carried out by the Drug and Alcohol Office will be retained as set out in state legislation.

Mental Health Commissioner Tim Marney presented two slides that outlined the planned structure for the new agency.

WANADA recorded the briefing and a condensed video can now be shared.

WANADA will continue to engage with the Drug and Alcohol Office and the Mental Health Commission to ensure that the needs of the non-government alcohol and other drug sector are heard and will monitor the impact on services and consumers.

For more information, please contact WANADA on (08) 6365 6365 or via drugpeak@wanada.org.au

On Ice - Methamphetamine Use and Treatment In WA

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

WA's high rate of amphetamine use is in the spotlight, with police, emergency services, treatment services and the community raising concerns in The West Australian.

Amphetamine Use in WA

WA has the highest proportion of amphetamine users in Australia. The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report (July 2011) summary of methamphetamine use in the past 12 months for non-medical purposes by people aged 14 years or older in each state and territory showed:


Why Do People Use Amphetamines?

 People use alcohol and other drugs because it makes them feel good or better. Methamphetamine is no different in this sense. Methamphetamine can be used functionally in low doses, as a performance enhancing drug, but in higher doses is also extremely rewarding as a recreational drug.

The stimulating effects of methamphetamine, depending on the dose and a person's tolerance, can last between 12 and 21 hours. Users report improved concentration and focus, increased stamina and endurance, and experiences of well-being, confidence and heightened energy.

What Are The Risks?

The same factors that make the drug so attractive to some also make it easy to become dependent upon. People may end up relying on methamphetamine to cope with pressures from work or study, to enhance social activities or sex, or to self-medicate emotional or psychological pain. Considering its accessibility it can become a patterned response that provides a relatively easy "solution" to many different problems.

Wide variability in potency is a contributing factor to developing a dependence, as it encourages regular users to take all of a deal at once, rather than risk "wasting their rush" by trying a small amount first.  This may result in people taking escalating doses, making the risk of acute physical or mental health problems resulting from toxicity more likely.

Compared to dexamphetamine pills or powder, which are typically swallowed or "snorted", crystalline methamphetamine tends to be taken by more efficient and immediate means, such as smoking (vaporisation) or injecting. Clean injecting equipment must be used and never shared to prevent blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

Other health risks include mood changes, problems with thinking and memory, and damage to major organs.

Family and relationships may be adversely impacted by behavioural effects of the drug, increased criminal behaviour may become a problem for some users, and alcohol and methamphetamine use together may result in increased levels of violence and aggression.

 What Are The Challenges for Treatment Services?

Methamphetamine users do not experience withdrawal in the same way that heroin users do. Most dependent users can abstain for 5 to 7 days with little discomfort, sleeping and eating more than usual during this time. It is in the following weeks that methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms (including low energy and enthusiasm, depressed libido, poor concentration and memory, and irritability and irregular moods) emerge. These may last for several months. There is no specific detoxification medication.

This can be a challenge for in-patient and residential detoxification and rehabilitation services, which are designed typically for alcohol, benzodiazepine, or opioid detoxification. Other challenges for treatment services and consumers include:
  • Methamphetamine users who are wishing to become abstinent can experience an extended period (up to 12 months) of "crashing and craving".
  • The effectiveness of pharmacotherapies in reducing amphetamine type substance (ATS) use and preventing relapse is uncertain.
  • Amphetamine type substance users are often reluctant to enter and remain in treatment. Methamphetamine users tend to seek treatment only when the consequences of their use are severe.
  • Methamphetamine users often present with multiple complex needs.
  • High rates of treatment attrition and subsequent relapse is an issue, particularly among people with more severe dependence and longer duration of use.

What's Needed?

Alcohol and other drug services believe that more attention needs to be given to the treatment of people who experience problems related to amphetamine use and their families, friends and communities. These include:
  • Increased resources to support people who have problems related to amphetamine use to engage with services and to stay engaged for as long as necessary.
  • Harm reduction services designed to effectively engage with current users who are reluctant to enter formal treatment-to-abstinence.
  • Interventions that extend to behavioural management programs that support cognitive re-development and sustained motivation to achieve improvement.
  • A focus on psychosocial interventions - pharmacotherapy has limited impact for people who have problems related to amphetamine use.
  • Interventions that address the range of issues related to methamphetamine use, including improving physical and mental wellbeing, relationships and quality-of-life.
  • Exchange of information and experiences between services and with health and community services outside of the alcohol and other drug sector.

 Finding Information

Drug Aware provides information about amphetamines at www.amphets.com.au

Find Support

Support and information is available to people who experience problems related to amphetamine use, whether it be your own use, or that of a friend or family member. To learn more about the services available, please visit www.greenbook.org.au or call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service, which offers free, confidential counselling, referral and support 24/7, on (08) 9442 5000 or, for WA country callers, 1800 198 024.

Regional Services Cover The Distance

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Alcohol and other drug-related problems can affect people and communities anywhere - from inner city Perth to Albany, Kalgoorlie or Broome. Alcohol and other drug services in regional, rural and remote locations face the challenges of distance and isolation yet strive to offer quality services to their local communities.

Milliya Rumurra's Andrew Amor with Carol Daws, CEO Cyrenian House
"Alcohol is still the biggest problem and area of need for us, then cannabis." says Andrew Amor, Chief Executive Officer of Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation in Broome. Milliya Rumurra operates a residential rehabilitation service and sobering up centre in Broome, as well as offering treatment and outreach services to local communities.

"Distance makes it difficult for people to access services," says Andrew. "People may need to travel for several hours to attend appointments."

The range of services available in regional areas is also limited, although targeted to meet the needs of the local community.

"Our approach makes sure that we're culturally secure and culturally responsive," says Andrew. "We can also refer clients to services outside of the Kimberley."

Regional Services Share Challenges and Solutions

Andrew recently attended a workshop for managers of regional, rural and remote alcohol and other drug services organised by the WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA). The workshop brought managers from Community Alcohol and Drug Services, sobering up centres and residential rehabilitation services to Perth to network and learn more about each others work.

"It's good to get the perspective of the other managers on the issues, difficulties, what works, and different approaches," explains Andrew. "We can link that back to our services and apply some of the interventions that others have tried and that worked."

Mental Health A Concern

Many services work with people who have mental health concerns and managers felt that mental health issues should ideally be addressed more quickly.

"Cultural issues may also be thrown into the mix, and you have to ask if it's a mental health issue or is it a combination of all of that for the client," says Andrew. "What I was hearing is what we all experience, for example under-resourced mental health services."

"We discussed how we can continue to provide the AOD workforce with the skills they need to deal with some mental health issues and promote the need for mental health clinicians to have a sound understanding of alcohol and other drug issues."

Recruitment and Retention of Staff

Recruiting and retaining staff can also be difficult in regional areas, but there are advantages to living in the Kimberley.

"The lifestyle is relaxed, it's only five minutes' drive to work and if you love the outdoors it's a great place to be, with fishing, camping and swimming," says Andrew.

"It's a small community, so people get to know you, and there's an extended social network."

More Information

For more information about the alcohol and other drug services in regional Western Australia, please call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024, or visit the Green Book Directory of Alcohol & other Drug and Mental Health Services in WA at www.greenbook.org.au .

For more information about working in the alcohol and other drug sector, please contact WANADA on (08) 6365 6365 or via drugpeak@wanada.org.au

Videos Start Talk on Alcohol & other Drug and Mental Health Services

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

With the Drug and Alcohol Office and the Mental Health Commission in Western Australia set to amalgamate next month, the hope is that people who experience both mental health and alcohol and other drug-related issues will see better outcomes.

The WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA) and the WA Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) are collaborating to support this goal, recently inviting alcohol and other drug and mental health service providers, consumers, family members, significant others and carers to a Cross Sector Forum with the aim of encouraging greater understanding between the two sectors.

"While alcohol and other drug and mental health services aim to improve people's health and wellbeing, their approaches differ greatly," says WANADA's Angela Corry. "Participants appreciated an opportunity to learn more about what sets the two sectors apart and what they share in common."

Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health Cross Sector Forum 2014

Facilitated by Professor Margaret Hamilton AO, the first Alcohol and other Drug and Mental Health Cross Sector Forum was held in June this year. Discussion focussed on expectations and values, what the sectors share in common and where they differ.

"Participants also discussed how words can have different meanings," says Angela. "Words such as 'maintenance' and 'recovery' can have very different meanings for people who have experience in the alcohol and other drug sector compared to the mental health sector."

To prompt open discussion, WANADA produced two videos featuring people with experience of WA's alcohol and other drug and mental health services offering their perspectives.

Expectations and Values

What do people expect when they access an alcohol and other drug or mental health service in WA? Kindness and compassion rated highly... 

Commonalities and Differences

What do alcohol and other drug services have in common with mental health services? What's different? The need to reduce stigma and discrimination is just one of the common themes to emerge...

Future Directions

WANADA and WAAMH have now committed to future collaboration, based on feedback from the forum.

"We've committed to supporting greater consumer participation, to reducing stigma and discrimination related to alcohol and other drug use and mental health and to hosting future forums," says Angela. "We'll also be following how the amalgamation of the Drug and Alcohol Office and the Mental Health Commission affects services so that we can help to ensure that the change brings with it improvements."

More information about the forum and future collaboration can be found in the Alcohol and other Drug and Mental Health Cross Sector Forum Summary Report (August 2014).

More Information

For more information about WANADA and WAAMH's collaborative work, or future Cross Sector Forums, please contact WANADA on (08) 6365 6365 or via drugpeak@wanada.org.au.

Alcohol and other Drugs - A Zimbabwean Perspective

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Zimbabweans living in Perth took the opportunity to share their experiences of and attitudes towards alcohol and other drugs and mental health in a survey conducted by the WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA).

Alcohol and other drug services offer information, support and treatment to people who need it, regardless of their cultural or linguistic background. Working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds requires a greater understanding of a cultural group and the 82 survey participants have contributed to WANADA's understanding of the Zimbabwean community in Perth.

The Survey

WANADA Project Officer Geraldine Muriritirwa, originally from Harare in Zimbabwe, encouraged people in her networks to complete the survey online via Facebook. The survey found that:

  • Forty two respondents reported that they know someone adversely affected by their own or another's alcohol or other drug use
  • Two out of five respondents experienced symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression.
 "We're encouraged by the openness of survey participants," says Geraldine. "Recognising alcohol and other drug issues and mental health concerns in yourself or others is a great first step to overcoming them."

What Prevents People From Accessing Services?

More than half of respondents reported that they would be too embarrassed to access alcohol and other drug or mental health services. Others reported that they didn't think services would be necessary to help deal with alcohol and other drug or mental health issues.

"We want people to know that not only is it okay to access support and information, we can make a big difference to ourselves and our community when we do," says Geraldine.

Talking More About Alcohol and other Drugs and Mental Health

WANADA now plans to meet with people from Zimbabwe living in Perth to share  more information about the services available and what they can do when faced with alcohol and other drug or mental health issues. "We're hoping that by talking more to Zimbabweans living in Perth about alcohol and other drug issues we can prevent problems from developing and offer assistance if needed," says Geraldine.

More Information

For more information about the project, or how alcohol and other drug services work with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, please contact Geraldine Muriritirwa on (08) 6365 6365 or via geraldine.muriritirwa@wanada.org.au.

Overdose Affects Women and Families

Thursday, 14 August 2014

International Overdose Awareness Day - prevention and remembrance
Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that fatal overdose claimed more Australian lives in 2012 than road deaths and that the number of middle-aged women who lose their lives to overdose is increasing. As International Overdose Awareness Day 2014 approaches, we consider the impact of overdose and prevention efforts.

How Common is Fatal Overdose?

The Penington Institute recently commissioned the Australian Bureau of Statistics to provide data on the number of fatal overdoses in Australia.

Chief Executive Officer John Ryan says that total overdose deaths in Australia in 2012 (1427) outnumbered the road toll (1338) for the second year in a row.

More than one in five fatal overdoses involved a woman aged 30 - 50 years old.

"Almost three times more middle-aged women die from accidental overdose than in all traffic accidents," Mr Ryan says. "The number of middle-aged women dying from accidental overdose has more than doubled in a decade."

The Penington Institute will release more figures on fatal overdose in Australia next week.

Impact on Families and Friends

According to International Overdose Awareness Day organisers, deaths from overdose send out tidal waves of pain through families and friendship circles which leave a deep and enduring sense of loss.

Family members affected by the death of a loved one to fatal overdose have shared tributes on the Overdose Awareness Day website at www.overdoseday.com/tributes

International Overdose Awareness Day - 31 August 2014

International  Overdose Awareness Day is a day of remembrance for everyone with a connection to fatal overdose.

Individuals and organisations are invited to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on or around Sunday 31 August.

If you would like to hold an event to raise awareness about overdose prevention or to acknowledge the human toll with a memorial, you can find more information and tips at www.overdoseday.com

Support and Information

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing problems related to alcohol or other drugs, support is available. Call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 for free, confidential telephone counselling and referral 24/7.

Information about alcohol and other drug services in WA is also available in the Green Book Directory of Alcohol and other Drug and Mental Health Services in WA.

Food and Fun For Children at Saranna

Monday, 4 August 2014

Vanessa and Corinne with SECECC Manager Sharmayne
Vanessa and Corinne with SECECC Manager Sharmayne Holly
Edith Cowan University nutrition students Corinne Tighe and Vanessa Vidler recently completed five-week community nutrition placements at the WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA) and recommend other students take up the challenge.

"We were lucky enough to work with Saranna Early Childhood Education and Care Centre (SECECC) which is a long day care centre operated by Cyrenian House," says Vanessa. "The placement gave me exposure to the alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector and emphasised to me the importance of a holistic approach with this population group."

Vanessa and Corinne's project comprised three components:
  • a review of SECECC's menu,
  • the development and facilitation of healthy eating workshops for children and parents, and
  • the creation of a healthy eating toolkit to provide resources aimed at creating a sustainable health promoting environment.
Children at the centre enjoyed learning about different types of vegetables thanks to fun games, while staff  appreciated the students' menu suggestions.

 "The project was very interesting, challenging and varied and therefore proved to be a perfect opportunity for us to develop our skills as student dietitians," says Corinne. "Overall our experience at WANADA was a fantastic one."

WANADA facilitates placement of tertiary-level allied health students at alcohol and other drug services in Western Australia and has so far worked with students from Edith Cowan University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

"Alcohol and other drug services, particularly residential services, are keen to improve the overall health and wellbeing of their clients," says WANADA Project Officer Maree Stallard. "Placements have the potential to bring ideas and resources into a service and provide students with an insight into alcohol and other drug work."

More information about allied health student placements within the alcohol and other drug sector is available on the WANADA's Student Information page.

C The Person on World Hepatitis Day

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hepatitis C (or hep C) is the most common blood-borne virus in Australia. There are 230,000 people in Australia living with chronic hepatitis C.

Today, on World Hepatitis Day, HepatitisWA launches its new 'C the Person, not the disease' campaign.
HepatitisWA's aim is to raise awareness of hepatitis C, with a view to increasing access to testing, treatment and care.

About Hepatitis C

For hepatitis C infection to happen, the blood of someone with hep C has to enter someone else’s bloodstream. This could happen when equipment for injecting, piercing or tattooing is shared.

In Australia, there are almost ten times as many people living with hep C as are living with HIV, another blood-borne virus. This is despite the fact that Hep C is not generally transmitted sexually.

Over time, hepatitis C causes damage to the liver. Access to testing, treatment and support is essential if we are to reduce the impact of hepatitis C in our community.

Stigma and Discrimination A Barrier To Health Care

Studies have shown that people living with hepatitis C face discrimination which can act as a barrier to accessing treatment and making healthy lifestyle changes. Many people living with hepatitis C are reluctant to disclose their status due to stigma and discrimination.

Health Professionals Take The Pledge To Break Down Barriers

HepatitisWA has acknowledged the dedication and high quality services provided by many health care workers.

HepatitisWA is calling out to WA-based general practitioners and allied health professionals to become advocates for the C The Person Not The Disease campaign.

Health professionals can show their commitment to the campaign by making a pledge that will effectively help reduce stigma and discrimination to those affected by hepatitis C.

For more information on hepatitis C or the campaign, please visit www.ctheperson.com.au

Videos Bring Alcohol and other Drug Treatment to Life

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Alcohol and other drug services are taking advantage of new technologies to raise awareness about alcohol and other drug issues and where to find support and information when you need it.

Says Shonna Grant, Manager Residential Services at Cyrenian House, "The use of music, graphics and voice can convey a lot of information in a short space of time. A wall of text is not particularly inviting or engaging to a lot of people."

"Excessive consumption of alcohol by young people is an alarming social issue," says Holyoake's Business Development & Marketing Manager Mario Gomes. "Keen to communicate the message of self-responsibility, Holyoake felt that videos were a relevant and dynamic medium to achieve this."

What Are The Advantages?

"Information can be presented in interesting and creative ways," says Shonna. "The app we use for our videos is free, easy to use, and effectively gets the message across without a huge financial outlay."

Cyrenian House has produced a series of videos for its website that provide information about its programs, family inclusive practice and its commitment to welcoming people from diverse backgrounds, including Aboriginal people.

Strength in Diversity (Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex consumers at the Rick Hammersley Centre) involved residents at the Rick Hammersley Centre Therapeutic Community in the production.

"The Strength in Diversity video was a great way to foster consumer participation," says Shonna. "Creating the video was also therapeutic and affirming."

Mario says that Holyoake could see the benefits of sharing information through social media.

"It's an effective way to communicate with young people," he says. "Video links can be easily promoted via emails, websites and social platforms, so it's an economical way to communicate messages."

Feedback So Far...

"Very positive," says Mario. "Scores of people have viewed these videos on our website and Youtube."

Says Shonna, "We've only had them up for a couple of weeks but the response so far has been very positive."

Where To Find More

Do you have a video that raises awareness about alcohol and other drug issues? Let us know and we may feature it in a future Green Book Blog post.

Stigma Research Uncovers Need for Education

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

People who work in the alcohol and other drug sector say its time to make alcohol and other drug treatment more visible to the wider community, according to research commissioned by the WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA).

Funded by the Drug and Alcohol Office and managed by Marketing for Change, the project will inform evidence based approaches to reducing stigma associated with alcohol and other drug-related problems.

"Alcohol and other drug problems are a serious health concern," says WANADA CEO Jill Rundle. "People need to be able to access health services and support without fear of stigma or discrmination."

WANADA commissioned Colmar Brunton Social Research to identify the types of stigma experienced by AOD users in the WA community. As part of the research, Colmar Brunton surveyed 427 community members about attitudes towards people who experience alcohol and other drug problems.

Alcohol and other Drug-Related Problems in the WA Community

The survey found that many Western Australians know someone with personal experience of problems related to alcohol and other drugs (AOD). 

"Of the community members surveyed, 10% knew somebody who was currently experiencing problems with alcohol," reports WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA) Organisation Development Manager Jane Harwood.

"Six percent of respondents knew somebody who was currently experiencing problems with drugs," says Jane.

"While many people know someone who is currently experiencing alcohol or other drug related problems, there are still many others who have little experience of this health condition," says Jill Rundle. "Their ideas are more likely to be based on what they've learnt from popular culture than on the facts."

What Are The Myths?

Alcohol and other drug service workers and consumers participated in focus groups as part of the research and believe that change is needed.

When asked to identify the issues, alcohol and other drug workers reported a need to debunk stereotypes. The research found that,

"Sector workers feel that they see a wide range of people, and there is no specific type of person who may have problems related to alcohol or other drug use."

Workers reported that greater visibility of the different types of people would undermine assumptions.

Education Needed

All focus group participants felt that the stigma surrounding problems associated with alcohol and other drug use is based on ignorance.

"Both workers and consumers felt that to reduce stigma, education is needed at all levels," says Luke van der Beeke, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Marketing for Change. "Consumers felt that efforts to address negative stigma should be informed by people who have direct experience."

Future Work

While the research shows that stigma associated with alcohol and other drug problems is high, it has also provided direction on what to do next. WANADA will continue to keep the sector and the community informed of its progress and welcomes your comments.


The Green Book Blog is a project of WANADA

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