June 19, 2022
Victoria’s peak alcohol and other drug organisation has used its first board meeting in Warrnambool to call for destigmatising of AOD issues.
The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) also used the visit to add its voice to the push for the proposed Lookout Residential Rehabilitation Centre.
The VAADA Board met in Warrnambool on Friday June 17 and later hosted a South West AOD forum in conjunction with Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) to look for home-grown solutions for the local community.
VAADA President Dr Tamsin Short said there was a great window for change but people need to reconsider how they perceive AOD issues.
“There’s often a stigma within a stigma – firstly around mental health and then a further stigma around alcohol and other drugs,” Dr Short said.
“We need to shift community understanding about alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues to it being recognised as a health issue.
“I would love to see every news article with a link on how to get AOD help, like there is with articles about suicide and mental health.
“There are good supports available; services like WRAD are doing really great work, even though resources are limited.”
Dr Short said AOD issues could happen to anyone in any part of society.
“Non-stigmatising language around AOD is a massive issue that needs to be addressed,” she said. “We need to get the message across that people should be able to access treatment and not be marginalised.”
Dr Short said the Royal Commission into Mental Health recommended services be more accessible. “Mental health is going through a period of change so now is a good time to engage to ensure services are more accessible for people with AOD.”
Executive officer Sam Biondo said it was the first time VAADA had held a board meeting in Warrnambool as part of its annual country visiting program.
“We are aware of WRAD’s work in trying to establish the Lookout and it was a good time to visit to see if we could have an input about that project and local issues in general.”
Mr Biondo said he was impressed by the services offered at WRAD.
“It was very positive to hear how WRAD is supporting people by developing and implementing an innovative and accessible dual diagnosis service,” he said. “It’s exciting because it has the potential to be used by other organisations around the state. Warrnambool is showing the way.”
Mr Biondo said regional residential rehabilitation was vital because of the “tyranny of distance” and the need for people, including those in Aboriginal communities, to remain close to home in recovery.
“Western Victoria is known to be a hot spot for alcohol consumption and rehabilitation should be local, not hundreds of kilometres away in Geelong or Melbourne,” he said.
“WRAD is well positioned with wrap-around services including a GP clinic, addiction medicine psychiatrist, psychologist and a broad sweep of services that make it ideally placed to provide residential rehab.
“The south-west is the only catchment without residential rehab in Victoria.”
For drug and alcohol issues, call Directline 1800 888236, or WRAD 55 645777
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The WRAD Centre’s vision is to advance the health and wellbeing of those in the South Western Region of Victoria affected by Addictive behaviours and to promote optimal enjoyment of life.
The WRAD Centre seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic support and treatment to individuals and others affected by addictive behaviors and associated issues.
The philosophy of harm minimisation underpins the delivery of all programs offered by WRAD. This principle recognises that people in our society use both licit and illicit drugs, and that drugs can be used in ways that are more or less harmful to individuals, families and society. Harm minimisation offers a number of options designed to reduce the harm of drug use to the user and society.
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