A conference in Warrnambool on April 24 will bring together national and international speakers to help people working with south-west Victorian youth to better understand the drug and alcohol problems they face.

The `It’s About Youth’ conference is being hosted by the Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) and will be held at the Warrnambool Lighthouse Theatre.

 The conference will feature keynote speakers including director of the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Professor Dan Lubman, Professor of Addictions in the National Addictions Centre in London Michael T. Lynskey, and Dr John Howard who has recently retired from the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.

WRAD director Geoff Soma said the conference would offer low cost professional development opportunities for clinicians, school counsellors, police, and justice and health professionals working with young people.

 “It’s a rare opportunity to hear from high calibre international and national speakers on topics of local relevance to clinical practice,” Mr Soma said. “Normally people working in the field would have to go out of the region to access such interesting speakers,” he said.

 The conference will focus on topics including youth dual diagnosis, cannabis, genetic and environmental risk factors, youth behaviour and alcohol and other drug problems. It will also help workers in the field to access practical tools and resources and provide good networking experiences.

 Mr Soma said it was the first time Warrnambool would host a conference specifically for people working in the youth drug and alcohol field.

 Professor Lubman is also Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University and his research has covered many areas including the impact of alcohol and drug use on brain function and the relationship between substance abuse and mental disorder.

 Professor Lynskey has published extensively on issues relating to cannabis use disorders.

Dr Howard has worked in schools, juvenile justice, adolescent psychiatry and substance use treatment and has consulted internationally on youth drug use.

 The conference is part of WRAD’s youth outreach program and will cost only $27.50, including GST. Registrations close on April 10 on 1300 009723 or with WRAD clinical manager Cathy Bligh on cathyb@wrad.org.au.


The conference has been sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Health, Brophy Family and Youth Services, headspace, WRAD and Warrnambool City Council. Mr Soma said this support had allowed the conference cost to be kept at a minimum.


WRAD operates as part of the Handbury Medical Suites at 172 Merri Street, Warrnambool.