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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

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