The Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) has expanded its services to the community and has ended the 2012-13 financial year on a strong footing. The centre’s annual report shows WRAD has expanded its bulk-billing general practice medical service while continuing to provide support for people facing alcohol and other drug issues.

Director Geoff Soma said in the annual report that the year in review had been a good one for WRAD which demonstrated strong performance across the platforms of quality, partnership, clients, community and finance. “WRAD has worked hard over many years to build a multi-faceted service to support clients with a range of alcohol and drug and other issues,” he said.  Mr Soma said the Department of Health had begun the complicated process of reforming the service system which involves the recommissioning of drug and alcohol programs.  “The new design is ambitious but with adequate government investment will hopefully result in better services for our client group,” he said.

Chairman Helen Taylor said WRAD continued to provide a wide array of professional services and ongoing partnerships across the community. “Director Geoff Soma and his team have focused their efforts on providing effective services to the community and planning future programs and strategic local partnerships with agencies, to continue to make WRAD a leader and innovator in rural drug and alcohol services,” she said. Ms Taylor said the success of the medical services program this financial year has proven that the long-term future planning and growth of programs at WRAD has been positive and in line with community needs. WRAD has also moved forward to appoint a psychologist and an occupational therapist, whilst continuing with the extra doctor.

Ms Taylor said alcohol continued to be the most problematic drug concern in the community, while there is significant concern around prescription medication abuse.  She also noted the increased number of patients attending the general practice. “Initially people have used the general practice as an emergency appointment but we are now beginning to see return clients and their families,” she said.

Treasurer Chris Kol said the surplus of $204,603 was a welcome improvement on a $71,000 deficit the previous year that was largely caused by the investment in expanding the medical services. He said the overall result was buoyed by the enormous philanthropic donation of $100,000 from Geoff Handbury as well support from other local foundations and `fee for service’ income which increased by $187,000 due mainly to the expansion of medical services.  “This level of community support is fantastic, but donations are not a number that we can or should expect to rely on to run our business,” he added.

The report shows that alcohol remains the major issue for people seeking assistance from WRAD, followed by cannabis. Prescription medication was still an issue. A significant number of clients reported multiple drug usage, including alcohol, amphetamines and cannabis.

The report also reveals that the number of women accessing the service continues to grow.