Key messages

  • The Department of Health & Human Services works with Aboriginal people, organisations and communities, other parts of government and the Commonwealth to ensure access for Aboriginal people to a range of alcohol and other drug treatment services.
  • Aboriginal-specific alcohol and other drug treatment services are provided to Aboriginal people who are affected or who are at risk of being affected by alcohol and other drugs.
  • All mainstream adult community-based alcohol and other drug treatment services are expected to prioritise access for Aboriginal people.
  • Bunjilwarra Koori Youth Alcohol and Drug Healing Service is a state-wide service for Aboriginal young people.
  • The Commonwealth Government funds treatment and support services located in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and adult residential rehabilitation services.

About Aboriginal alcohol and other drug treatment services

Dedicated treatment services are provided to Aboriginal people in Victoria who are affected (either directly or indirectly) or who are at risk of being affected by alcohol and other drugs.

Accessing Aboriginal alcohol and other drug treatment services

Aboriginal-specific services provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) accept referrals from catchment-based intake services, as well as self-referrals and direct referrals from other services, or through DirectLine.

Aboriginal people can also choose to access mainstream services through catchment-based intake services.

Where people with a similar level of need are assessed as requiring alcohol and other drug treatment services, priority is given to Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal-specific alcohol and other drug treatment and support service providers

Aboriginal alcohol and other drug workers

The Victorian Government funds Aboriginal alcohol and other drug workers, based in some Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across Victoria.

The role of Aboriginal alcohol and other drug workers is to work in a culturally informed way with Aboriginal individuals and families to address problematic alcohol and other drug use. They provide services based on a harm reduction approach, including assessment, counselling, care coordination, group work including therapeutic cultural groups, health promotion, education, information, referral, advocacy and liaison services.

A particular focus is placed on reducing the uptake of alcohol and other drugs by young people.

Aboriginal alcohol and other drug clinical nursing program

Three rural Aboriginal alcohol and other drug nursing teams in Mildura, Shepparton and Bairnsdale provide clinical support to clients and link in with Aboriginal alcohol and other drug workers.These teams provide Aboriginal clients with holistic, culturally appropriate care.

Bunjilwarra Koori Youth Alcohol and Drug Healing Service

The Bunjilwarra Koori Youth Alcohol and Drug Healing Service is a purpose-built statewide 12-bed alcohol and other drug residential rehabilitation and healing service for Aboriginal young people aged 16 to 25.

The service is managed by the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) in partnership and with the support of local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health services.

A central component of the Bunjilwarra service model is a focus on strengthening and building a young person’s understanding and connections to their individual Aboriginal community and culture. To achieve effective transition and exit and after-care, Bunjilwarra works with key service providers and established networks across the state, to plan and coordinate the transition and after-care components of the model.

Mainstream alcohol and other drug treatment services

Access for Aboriginal people

All alcohol and other drug treatment services are expected to provide friendly, welcoming and culturally safe environments for Aboriginal people, and also provide service models that meet the needs of Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal-specific services accept referrals from catchment-based intake services, as well as self-referrals and direct referrals from other services or through DirectLine. Aboriginal people can also choose to access mainstream services through catchment-based intake services.

A designated Aboriginal care and recovery coordination function is available in each catchment. The function encompasses a diversionary and generalist service response for Aboriginal clients, as required.

All mainstream alcohol and other drug treatment services are expected to prioritise access for Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal metropolitan ice partnerships

A new initiative, supported by Victoria's Ice Action Plan, is being undertaken across four metropolitan areas to help improve access to services for Aboriginal people affected by ice and other drugs.

Working in partnership, selected Aboriginal-controlled community organisations and mainstream alcohol and other drug service providers provide assertive outreach and treatment, as well as help to streamline access to more intensive services where required.

The partnership aims to build sector capacity to work specifically with ice-affected Aboriginal individuals and families and provide learnings about approaches and practices that can be embedded into the treatment system to provide better responses to those in the Aboriginal community affected by ice.