A new mentoring program is hoping to make a difference to Terang and district people with drug and alcohol issues.
The independent peer support program aims to address a lack of services in rural areas, its brainchild and former Terang resident Angela Alexander said.
“There seems to be quite a gap in youth services. As far as peer mentoring goes, there’s not a lot,” she said.
“We’ve got fantastic services here in Warrnambool and I think there is a need for a little bit more in the rural areas.”
The community project is supported by Leadership Great South Coast and the Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD).
Funding from the Hugh Williamson Foundation is allowing the six-month pilot to go ahead.
Peer support worker Jon Benson will take on the weekly program, working with young people and adults to reduce or stop their substance abuse.
The next phase of the program would establish an ongoing peer support network in Terang.
“Our aim is to form a group in Terang that would grow to be a sustainable resource and Jon will train the young people to facilitate that group,” Ms Alexander said.
She said there were many benefits to the peer support model.
“One of the benefits is that lived experience. It’s somebody who can walk alongside the person and have that empathy and understanding,” she said.
“You’ve been in their shoes.”
Mr Benson said peer mentoring could help people get on top of their substance abuse problems. “It can help people to develop new tools to cope with things and give them a different way of looking at their lives,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for people in the area to start to address their issues before they get out of hand.”
Mr Benson said he could also connect people with alcohol and other drug clinicians at WRAD if needed.
The Terang peer mentoring pilot project is being offered each Friday afternoon from the Josie Black community health centre from 1pm-4pm.
People can contact Mr Benson on 1300 009723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or come in person to the community health centre.