Multicultural approach to drug support to save lives

  22 July 2019  NWMPHN   

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is investing $900,000 in a multicultural drug support program in partnership with the South Sudanese community. The program will be run by the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH).  

The program is the first of its kind to use a flexible and tailored model working closely with the local South Sudanese community. It is being developed in response to the communities’ self-identified need as well as growing evidence that urgent intervention is required. 

The new model is informed by peer-led approaches, where families and communities have had real input and will co-design the service model. 

The new model has five main elements:  

  • In-home model of care supporting both young people and their families  
  • Community workshops to improve service navigation and understanding of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) and mental health  
  • Sector capacity building to improve the cultural competence and accessibility of mainstream service providers  
  • Development of an evaluation framework to identify efficacy and potential for expansion 
  • Co-designed resource that is culturally sensitive in defining harm reduction 

CEH co-manager Alison Coelho said that with the in-home model of care, the multicultural drug support program will alleviate some of the fear of exposure that communities experience when trying to access mainstream services. 

“This new program subverts conventional AOD service models by making communities the decision makers at the heart of the program, an approach CEH regularly adopts when developing new programs and resources,” Ms Coelho said. 

NWMPHN CEO Adjunct Associate Professor Christopher Carter said NWMPHN are looking forward to seeing how the new program will address the growing concern about alcohol and drug misuse across our region. 

“CALD communities are significantly under-represented in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) system, with a range of service barriers and socio-cultural norms making it difficult for individuals and families to access treatment,” A/Prof Christopher Carter said. 

“NWMPHN are pleased to be collaborating with the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health to address the difficulties young people face in accessing culturally appropriate AOD treatment services.” 

CEH will lead the project in partnership with Turning Point, Drummond Street, VAADA, the Burnet Institute and Sudanese Mothers Coalition.