United approach to drugs after region's services shake-up

Changes to the region’s drug and alcohol service will improve referral of clients between support and treatment agencies.

Changes to the region’s drug and alcohol service will improve referral of clients between support and treatment agencies.

A SHAKE-UP of the region’s drug and alcohol services will roll all the south-west’s rehabilitation resources into a single group.

The overhaul, claimed to be the largest in 20 years, is expected to ensure rehab and withdrawal patients are treated faster when the changes come in after September. 

Five of the region’s services and hospitals will launch the better reference system called the Great South Coast Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services consortium. 

The Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) will lead the group on behalf of Portland District Health’s Glenelg Southern Grampians Drug Treatment Services, South West Healthcare, Great South Coast Medicare Local and Brophy Family and Youth Services.

WRAD chief executive Geoff Soma said the changes would better refer clients between agencies. 

“The services offered will not necessarily have the same names as before but it is designed to be less complicated and easier for clients to navigate,” Mr Soma said.

“Services are being streamlined into a smaller number of service types but the plan is that clients will still receive access to what they need.”

People trying to access services are often confused by a multitude of services and agencies. “The objective is to get people on to the right treatment as quickly as possible,” Mr Soma said.

“They tell their story only one time and it goes into the system and it’s tracked through the system.

“They’ll be picked up quicker, the sooner they’re seen the better.”

Another organisation called Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) will set up in Warrnambool to co-ordinate the new system. 

The changes kick in on September 1 and will be reviewed after 12 months.

Similar changes are being implemented across Victoria. 

Great South Coast Medicare Local will also oversee the project to spot service gaps.

Mr Soma said clients would not be disrupted by the overhaul.

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