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Curtin University
National Drug Research Institute

Preventing Harmful Drug Use In Australia

Media Release


Date: Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Better alcohol treatment will help 'close the gap'

Indigenous researchers are helping to 'close the gap' for their own people through five completed research projects aimed at enhancing alcohol treatment for Indigenous Australians.

Recommendations on how health services can improve alcohol treatment will be decided at the Enhancing the management of alcohol-related problems among Indigenous Australians workshop in Canberra today (WEDNESDAY). The workshop is the culmination of 2 years of on-the-ground research in WA, the Northern Territory, the ACT and New South Wales.

Each of the five research projects completed was led by an Indigenous researcher or involved Indigenous collaborators. The program was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and co-ordinated by the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University of Technology.

The projects focussed on:

  • Incorporating the views of Aboriginal people in designing alcohol rehabilitation programs in WA;
  • Individual rehabilitation plans combining medical treatment with social support in Alice Springs. The Northern Territory Government has already committed funds to put this project into practice.
  • Producing Indigenous-specific resources and training for health workers in the ACT;
  • Brief interventions delivered in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in five rural communities in NSW; and
  • Improving access to alcohol treatment services for Indigenous Australians in NSW.

NDRI's Indigenous Australian Research Team Leader Professor Dennis Gray said the goal of the projects was to improve management of alcohol treatment for Indigenous Australians by Indigenous communities themselves and health services that provide clinical care to them.

"Alcohol dependence is a significant problem for Indigenous Australians but the treatment provided and access to it is less than optimal," Professor Gray said.

"Our goal is to recommend practical ways to improve alcohol treatment for Indigenous Australians. If the lessons we have learnt can be picked up by service providers and funding agencies, then they can make a real contribution to closing the gap."

Project backgrounders follow

Further Information:

Dr Mandy Wilson
National Drug Research Institute
Mobile: 0407 774 057

Vic Rechichi
Communications Officer, National Drug Research Institute
Curtin University
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1627
Mobile: 0414 682 055

Rachael Lobo
Communications Officer, National Drug Research Institute
Curtin University
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1627
Mobile: 0400 218831

Project List

Evaluating the management of alcohol-related problems among urban Aboriginal People in Western Australia: Using an action research approach to enhance service delivery and collaboration for client care

The project aims to ensure that the views of Aboriginal service users are taken into account in the planning and management of alcohol rehabilitation services, and that there are genuine efforts to work together to improve service outcomes. It utilises an action research methodology to evaluate and strengthen partnerships between Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Service and primary health care and mainstream alcohol rehabilitation service providers. The approach will optimise the recruitment of Aboriginal people with alcohol misuse into recovery and support them to complete the program.

Multidisciplinary, self management rehabilitation care plans and case management to improve alcohol treatment for Aboriginal people in Alice Springs

Clients in Alice Springs with alcohol problems identified either at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, by Drug and Alcohol Services Association Outreach Workers or through an alcohol related admission to Alice Springs hospital will be offered a brief intervention followed by a full assessment leading to the development of individual rehabilitation plans that involve three streams of care:

  • medical stream - including pharmacotherapies;
  • psychosocial stream - providing focused psychological strategies; and
  • social and cultural support - including assistance with employment, housing and accommodation.

"Where's your country?" "Who are your people?" Asking the right questions when treating problematic alcohol use amongst Indigenous Australians (ACT)

This project, being conducted in the ACT, aims to improve services for Indigenous urban peoples experiencing alcohol-related problems. It includes development and evaluation of brief interventions, an integrated screening and assessment tool, and shared- or integrated-care/case management. A set of resources and training materials will be produced for use by other service providers.

The integration of brief intervention into Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in five rural communities in NSW

While the disproportionately high burden of alcohol-related harm borne by Aboriginal communities has been documented, there is a clear need for well controlled intervention and dissemination efforts in this area. Given there is compelling evidence that brief interventions are an effective treatment in the non-Aboriginal community, it is likely that these interventions will also be effective in Aboriginal communities. This project is a dissemination trial involving Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in five rural communities in NSW. Its aim is to implement evidence-based brief interventions for alcohol in each of the five ACCHS, demonstrating the level of tailoring to individual services required to foster successful integration and sustainability into routine care.

A community based brief intervention: Increasing access to the full range of treatment services for alcohol problems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (NSW)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians often have reduced access to health services, including early treatment for alcohol problems. This project examines the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of brief and early intervention for alcohol problems in a community setting for local Aborigines. Informal community gatherings will provide a setting for group education on alcohol and the option for individual screening and confidential brief advice. Participants can also provide feedback on barriers to accessing mainstream treatment services. Some participants will be followed up and asked about how their drinking has changed and for feedback on services they have contacted.