A new consortium of south-west Victorian drug and alcohol agencies aims to help people take the right path through new therapeutic counselling services. The `Right Path Consortium’ involves the Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD), Glenelg South Grampians Drug Treatment Services and Colac Area Health.

The consortium has welcomed $554,291 funding for a pilot project from the State Government for a new community-based treatment program which creates five new positions. It is the first time the three agencies have come together to successfully apply for funding for a joint project. It is also the first program of its type in rural Victoria.

The program will introduce a range of clinical counselling and support interventions to reduce drug use and related harm, and maintain therapeutic change. The service will be available to people experiencing alcohol and other drug addiction problems and co-occuring mental health conditions as well as other complex issues affecting their lives. It will involve clinicians based in Warrnambool, Portland and Colac, a psychologist and team leader based in Warrnambool and shared across the three services.

The lead agency in the consortium is WRAD and its Director Geoff Soma said the funding provided a boost to local services. “It is a good initiative in that it recognises that the level of complexity in the client group requires more intensive counselling and support to overcome alcohol and drug and related problems,” Mr Soma said. “This will give us an opportunity to deliver a range of new services to a complex group of clients and we are grateful for the support from the Department of Health in introducing this new service,” he added.

Glenelg South Grampians Drug Treatment Services Manager Bev McIlroy said the project would enable the consortium to work together to identify the strengths and challenges within this model. “Most importantly it will demonstrate the effectiveness of the strong partnerships that utilise local knowledge and local networks to further develop robust client and family focused therapies,” Ms McIlroy said. “Quamby” welcomes and embraces this addition to our service profile as further indication of the commitment of the government to improving outcomes for clients with complex needs that are impacted by alcohol and other drugs.”

Ruth Payne from Colac Area Health’s alcohol and other drug team said the funding would help to address the area’s high rates of alcohol use and growing problems with methamphetamines. “We will be able to be more flexible in how we work with families to address these problems,” Ms Payne said.

The clinician based in Colac will work with referred clients and their families to develop coordinated care plans. “One of the priorities of the program is to understand the impacts on families,” Ms Payne added.