Port Hedland and Roebourne substance misuse services review
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Alcohol and other substance misuse is an acknowledged health and social problem, not only in the Pilbara region, but throughout Aboriginal Australia. However, until recently, there has been little research to identify methods of best practice in the prevention of substance misuse among Aboriginal communities (Unwin & Serafina 1995; Pilbara Public Health Unit 1999; Duquemin, d'Abbs and Chambers 1997). Reasons for this are various, but include the cost of such research, the heterogeneity of Aboriginal communities and the methodological difficulties of conducting valid research among Aboriginal peoples (Morfitt 1997; Gray & Morfitt 1996; McKenzie 1996). This research was initiated by an incorporated Aboriginal organisation formed to provide services for the homeless and alcohol-affected people, and with the support of the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. While there are a range of services in the Pilbara region designed for Aboriginal people with substance misuse problems, there has not been any systematic examination of the extent to which these services meet the needs of the region. This project was designed to provide such an assessment.The project was initiated in February 2000 when Mr Bob Neville, Coordinator of Bloodwood Tree Association Inc. in South Hedland invited members of the Aboriginal Research Team at the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) to review substance misuse services in the Pilbara region, and asked the team to liaise with the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) to instigate this. Subsequently Mr Keith Lethbridge of OATSIH wrote to Bloodwood Tree Association in May to outline the broad objectives of the review, the details of which were to be worked out between Bloodwood Tree in Port Hedland and Mawarnkarra Health Service in Roebourne. These broad objectives were to: evaluate and report on substance misuse in the Pilbara region; evaluate and report on substance misuse services in the region; recommend where necessary better coordination of existing services for substance misuse; and assess the need for and recommend where necessary additional services for substance misuse. Subsequently, after negotiations between NDRI and OATSIH it was agreed--because of time and cost limitations--that the review would focus on Roebourne and Port Hedland. While the needs of each town should be considered separately, recommendations on any possible benefits of linkages and coordination were to be considered.
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