The [health system] services and what is offered to support people is full of doors, and most of them are closed and you need a specific key to get through them. You basically get handed the wrong key most of the time…it’s extremely exhausting, especially in the most critical times of your life…The best way I can put it is that they’re [YOTS] the locksmiths and they work with us to open the doors even if our keys don’t fit. - Community Member
Youth Off the Streets
Youth Off the Streets (YOTS) is commissioned to deliver the Dunlea Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Youth Service, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for young people aged 13-19 years and their families. Each young person receives free access to trauma‑informed AOD interventions, psychoeducation and skills programs.
Pari* is 18 years old and was living in crisis accommodation when she first engaged with the Dunlea AOD Casework Program. She had been using marijuana, alcohol and nicotine as escapism from her past and was also managing a diagnosed mental health condition.
Since starting at Dunlea, Pari has identified self-sabotaging behaviours and addressed these issues through programs such as YOLO. YOLO is a daily living skills program that provides information on topics such as sexual health, legal rights and responsibilities, drugs and alcohol, and support networks.
Pari is currently in transitional housing and being supported to find secure accommodation. She has also enrolled in TAFE to study a course in social work. Her ambition is to help other young people like herself by becoming a Youth Worker.
Community Restorative Centre
This year, we were proud to celebrate alongside our commissioned provider, the Community Restorative Centre (CRC), as they reached their 70th anniversary.
CRC was also recognised at the Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) conference where their team received the AOD Frontline Champion award, and Excellence in Research and Evaluation award.
Unfortunately, 66% of people leaving the justice system have problematic alcohol or drug use, and 40% are managing a mental health condition2. Half of those ‘returning home’ don’t have a home to return to, and 50% of those ‘returning home’ don’t actually have a home to go back to2. We commission CRC’s Pathways Home program to support young people build sustainable pathways outside of the justice system to build sustainable, safe, addiction-free futures in the community.
people with access to the CRC program were less likely to be convicted of further offences.3
For every 275
program participants, $16 million could be saved from the overall judicial system over three years.3
Odyssey House helps people of all ages and backgrounds break their dependence on alcohol and other drugs. Community members can access free treatment, including counselling, education and aftercare support.
Symptoms: Bryan* has a long history of alcohol use disorder and self-referred to Odyssey House with feelings of low self-worth and suicidal ideation.
Support: Bryan attended weekly SMART Recovery peer-support meetings, cognitive behavioural therapy sessions, psychoeducation on alcohol use disorders and counselling sessions.
Outcome: Bryan has now had the longest period of abstinence he can recall in his adult life.
I have been given a head full of new ideas to change my opinions, a box full of tools to assess and cope with the situations that I will find myself in every day or realistically any day and the willingness to choose to change and the commitment also to ensure that the changes are permanent.
We Help Ourselves
This year, We Help Ourselves (WHOS) celebrated 50 years of serving over 42,000 people across Australia.
In Western Sydney, the WHOS team provide wrap-around residential rehabilitation, treatment and case coordination for community members dealing with drug and alcohol dependency and complex mental illness. At the recent Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies conference, Garth Popple, WHOS CEO, was awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award in recognition of his 43 years in the AOD sector.
Salvation Army Youthlink and headspace youth mental health centres at Castle Hill, Parramatta and Mount Druitt run headfyrst, a project that supports 12-25-year-olds to access combined mental health and alcohol and other drug services.
* Name changed to protect this person's identity.
- Mission Australia (2022), Without a home: First-time youth homelessness in the COVID-19 period, Mission Australia: Sydney, NSW
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018), The health of Australia’s prisoners 2018, available at: aihw.gov.au/reports/prisoners/health-australia-prisoners-2018/summary
- Community Restorative Centre (2021), Breaking the cycle of incarceration, drug use and release: Evaluation of the Community Restorative Centre’s AOD and reintegration programs