Drug abuse lessons shared

Support local, independent journalism

The SE Voice is the Limestone Coast’s only fully digital publication. Locally owned & operated, we deliver all the latest news & sport direct to your fingertips. We're run by a creative team of local journalists all based in the region. News as we know has changed - we're delivering it first and free. Thank you for your support in keeping local news alive.

Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Drug abuse lessons shared

State MPs have joined Substance Misuse Limestone Coast (SMLC) in investigating the potential for a successful alcohol and other drug (AOD) service model in Warrnambool to be replicated in the Limestone Coast.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell and Member for MacKillop Nick McBride joined SMLC representatives last week to tour the WRAD Health facility in Warrnambool, a standalone bulk-billing medical clinic with a focus on AOD services.

The facility has been operating for more than 35 years and now employs 37 on-site staff, with outreach services available across Western Victoria.

The visit comes as SMLC has engaged specialist health consultants Health Q to conduct a feasibility study into whether a similar model could be adapted to suit the Limestone Coast.

SMLC Project Manager Sophie Bourchier said it was important for both MPs to visit WRAD Health to see for themselves the benefits of such a model.

“Bringing a collaborative AOD model to the region has been a long-term goal of SMLC,” Ms Bouchier said.

“Our ultimate goal is for a similar standalone facility that may begin with a co-located arrangement delivering services covering the Limestone Coast, with outreach services from Mt Gambier and Naracoorte.”

Over the last few years, SMLC had formed a close relationship with the WRAD Health team, inviting chief executive Mark Powell as a guest speaker at the 2023 Limestone Coast AOD Regional Summit.

“At last year’s summit, we focused on dual diagnosis and the growing need for services that can treat both AOD and mental health issues concurrently,” Ms Bourchier said.

“The 75-plus delegates who attended the November 2023 summit showed overwhelming support for a WRAD Health model to be based locally, delivering dual diagnosis services and having a dedicated Youth AOD Worker provide regional services across the Limestone Coast.

“Growing a local pool of skilled AOD staff is also a necessity for our region and we need to explore how that can happen with our existing tertiary facilities.”

The feasibility study is expected to be completed by July this year.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said he was pleased to join Substance Misuse Limestone Coast (SMLC) in exploring the potential for a successful alcohol and other drug (AOD) service model in the region.

“The recent visit to WRAD Health in Warrnambool, alongside Member for MacKillop Nick McBride and SMLC representatives, was an informative experience,” he said.

“WRAD Health has been operating for over 35 years and is a fantastic example of a successful and sustainable model of AOD services.

Witnessing this firsthand highlighted the substantial benefits such a facility could bring to the Limestone Coast.

“The feasibility study conducted by Health Q is a crucial step in the determining the viability of such a service and how it could be adapted to best suit our region’s needs.

“I support this initiative and look forward to the completion of the feasibility study in July.

Bringing a collaborative AOD model to the Limestone Coast is a significant step towards addressing the pressing needs of our region and ensuring that our residents have access to the critical services they deserve.”

Member for MacKillop Nick McBride said he was extremely impressed with the WRAD model of care.

“The incorporation of GP services with drug and alcohol support staff, psychologists and other allied health professionals makes sense,” he said.

“The management by a private consortium, a coordinated approach with GP’s, mental health and community health professionals all employed under the same building is a common sense approach that provides a continuity of care that can be difficult to achieve when these services are fragmented.

“We know the state government has pledged one million dollars to the Naracoorte hospital with an intent to look at regional health services beyond Naracoorte.

I would love to see a smaller scale WRAD model of care be looked at as part of this investigation.

“I was impressed by the fact that as community needs have evolved, the WRAD model of care centre has also grown, for example adding a dietician and job ready programs to their model.

This means the WRAD will not remain stagnant – it will continue to evolve over the changing needs of the community.

“It resonated with me that we cannot just rehabilitate the individual, we have to create an environment that supports the families and connections to the individual – otherwise we are potentially putting people straight back into the environment that may cause addiction and/or mental health issues to resurface.”

Why wait? Get more stories like this delivered straight to your inbox
Join our digital edition mailing list and stay up to date on the latest news, events and special announcements from across the Limestone Coast.

Your local real estate guide - every Thursday


You might also like