Drug and alcohol services across south-west Victoria are being streamlined in a major reform of the sector.

As part of the new arrangement, the newly formed Great South Coast Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services consortium will provide counselling, care and recovery, and non-residential withdrawal services.

The Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) is the lead agency in the consortium which also includes Portland District Health (Glenelg Southern Grampians Drug Treatment Services), South West Healthcare, Great South Coast Medicare Local, and Brophy Family and Youth Services.

It is the first time the agencies have pooled their resources and experience to provide services in the region. Services will be delivered in Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton and surrounding regions.

A new intake and assessment service will also be established as part of the changes. It will be delivered by the Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) which will refer people to relevant local treatment providers. ASCO is expected to have a base in Warrnambool as part of the new arrangements.

The Great South Coast Medicare Local will undertake a planning function for the new consortium to identify service gaps and communicate needs to the Department of Health.

WRAD Director Geoff Soma said clients in the region would continue to receive quality care.

“It is exciting to be successful in a very competitive tendering environment and then launch a consortium that will aim to improve the level of service delivery across the Great South Coast region,” Mr Soma said.

“The services offered will not necessarily have the same names as before but it is designed to be less complicated and easier for clients to navigate. Services are being streamlined into a smaller number of service types but the plan is that clients will still receive access to what they need,” he said.

“The agencies will work together and with the Victorian Government Department of Health to make sure ensure clients’ needs are being met.”

Mr Soma said the new referral process would screen clients who want services and direct them to where their needs will be best met for drug and alcohol, mental health and other disability related services.

“It is a different referral pathway but it is designed to make it easier for clients to get help when and where they need it,” he said.

Mr Soma said the changes were part of the biggest reform of the drug and alcohol sector for 20 years.

The changes will apply from September 1 this year. Mr Soma reassured clients who are using the current system. “All current clients will be transitioned into the new system without disruption to their treatment and care,” he said.