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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.


The Green Book Blog is a project of WANADA

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