Update in relation to defunding of Amity’s AOD Indigenous Project.
Amity has been informed that we have been unsuccessful with our application for further funding of our AOD project from the Commonwealth Government Indigenous Advancement Strategy. The current project is funded until June 2015.
Amity has been working with Indigenous communities around Darwin and Palmerston for the past nine years to reduce the harms associated with drug and alcohol use particularly inhalants. Over this time evidence and trends have been observed and documented. Some of the trends from the AOD Indigenous Project to date are:
- Suppressed inhalant use within the greater Darwin Indigenous Communities.
- Aboriginal project officers who have a strong background in working with Indigenous people bring to the agency strong networks and increased understanding of Indigenous culture.
- Collaborative strategies reduce the potential access to volatile substances associated with retailers and contractors in the region.
- Volatile substance resources pertinent to contractors and the building industry are developed and disseminated.
- Establishment of men’s, women’s and youth groups from Indigenous communities working in culturally appropriate ways to reduce harms associated with substances and to reduce desire to engage in substance use.
The specific communities where Amity works are Gurdorrka, Milgarri and Bagot with outreach into the greater Darwin and Palmerston region in relation to volatile substance misuse. This is based on requests from residents within these communities and the high presenting need for agencies to effectively engage through individual, family and community level support. This project supports activities focusing on prevention and treatment for reduced drug, alcohol and substance misuse. This in turn facilitates raising awareness and provides education, information and advocacy targeting a reduction in offending, violence and victimisation in communities. The project has added additional strategies by focusing on families as the unit of intervention and utilising meaningful and well-established trusting relations as vehicles for planning and change. There is a plethora of evidence that demonstrates the need to work to address the structural determinants to health for sustainable change. Amity’s project has a long history of engaging with people around health, employment and education to build capacity and motivation for change.
1. Reduce harms associated with inhalants, alcohol and other drugs in identified Darwin Aboriginal Communities.
2. Supporting Darwin and Top End Communities to reduce harms associated with inhalants, alcohol and other drugs and comorbidity.
3. Increase the capacity of Amity to work with Aboriginal Communities. For example by the continued employment of Aboriginal staff and support for their ongoing professional development.
4. Continuous evaluation and quality improvement of project delivery.
For over 6 years, Amity’s work in alcohol and other drugs in Darwin’s town camps has delivered important multiplier effects for these communities and the Federal government’s recent defunding of Amity’s AOD program will generate more costs than it saves. Amity’s approach demonstrates an agency that punches well above its weight. This is a brief summary of Amity’s achievements in working with Indigenous Darwin communities over the last 2.5 years.
Amity has always worked in partnerships with other agencies. It works with community arts centres to engage children in theatre and creative arts, contributing to major productions like Nite Street Youth Festivals. It supports medical clinics in their community visits, delivers joint alcohol and volatile substance misuse workshops with NT government departments to schools, clinics, youth and sporting organisations and community groups. It receives constant requests for specialist workshops in volatile substance misuse-often from nonIndigenous groups and organisations such as YMCA- and works with the NT government to frame new legislation surrounding the rollout of low aromatic fuels. It responds to such requests from the Katherine region despite only being funded for Darwin.
Amity has developed, maintains and delivers a range of resources for contractors, councils and retailers which fully explains volatile substance legislation and compliance as it relates to these sectors. Amity has developed and maintains a Territory wide, voluntary network of agencies and organisations involved in volatile substance misuse for the purposes of monitoring changes in supply, demand and incidence. This is invaluable for addressing sniffing outbreaks and prevention of harm.
Examples of Key activities:
- Work with individuals and families and community to develop AOD awareness and education activities.
- Increase engagement in a range of activities that work to build community capacity.
- Linking with other service providers to strengthen afterschool activities in Bagot, Gurdorrka and Milgarri communities.
- Work to increase the decision making capacitiy of residents through facilitation of men’s and women’s groups
- Work with community leaders and stakeholders to strengthen AOD harm minimisation strategies and discuss feasibility of community AOD forum.
- Encourage and support the development of strong leadership in the communities by providing mentorship and self-development training opportunities.
- Work with the community leaders to develop strategy with parents to be involved in their children’s activities.
- Support programs on the identified communities that increase school attendance.
- Work with youth outreach programs such as Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre to develop opportunities for young people to develop through exposure to music, the arts and existing main-stream infrastructure.
- Provide feedback to NTAOD when required and facilitate the NT Wide VS Group and other networks when requested.
- Liaise with other service providers e.g. CAYLUS regarding VS legislation and/or supply, harm and demand reduction strategies.
- Provide supply reduction information and training to retailers and contractors through Local Government Association of the NT.
- Networking and support government stakeholders to provide supply reduction information sessions to retailers and private stakeholders.
- Work with the community to match services to identified needs.
- Link services with community activities building rapport with residence on communities, through women, men and youth programs.
- Encourage community through men, women and youth groups involvement to identify topics of discussion e.g. AOD, mental health, family violence, housing and employment.
- Through women’s and men’s groups identify strategies to address co-occurring mental health concerns and issues in communities. Working with stakeholders to provide relevant information and awareness sessions.
- Encourage and facilitate reflective practice; assisted by the use and implementation of evaluation tools.
- Develop cultural competencies for all staff.
The loss of Amity’s presence in Darwin and Palmerston communities will lead to greater administrative confusion and inefficiencies in government processes as Amity’s role as facilitator, mediator and advocate is left unfilled by other agencies. Indeed, Amity is well known as a facilitator and gateway for other organisations tasked with working with these communities.
For more information contact Mr Bernard Dwyer at Amity.
Phone: (08) 8944 6565
Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD)
Indigenous Communities Project 2012 - 2015
Supported by Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing
A three year project, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, aimed at reducing the health and social harms associated with volatile substance misuse (VSM) in the Top End region of the Northern Territory. The purposes of the project are to:
- develop systems and processes that reduce supply and associated harms in the Greater Darwin region;
- increase the capacity of Indigenous communities, in the Darwin region, to reduce the harms and demands of alcohol, drugs and volatile substances; and
- increase the capacity of Amity Community Services and other service providers, individually and collectively, to work with Indigenous communities.
Specifically the project will:
- work with retailers to reduce the supply of volatile substances for misuse;
- advocate and lobby to strengthen Northern Territory legislation relating to VSM;
- collect anecdotal information relating to volatile substance misuse;
- develop inter-agency protocols to respond to VSM for the Darwin region, enhancing a multi-level service delivery contributing to harm minimisation in the Darwin region;
- work in partnership with government departments and other community organisations to increase coordination between services and access for Indigenous communities; and
- work with specific Indigenous communities, and relevant organisations, to increase community strengths and build healthy lifestyles. This may involve facilitating and supporting community initiatives, assisting in the development of community plans and assessments, increasing access to relevant information, and helping with submissions and accessing funding.
For further information on the project please contact:
Amity Community Services on
Telephone: (08) 8944 6565
Facsimile: (08) 8981 8456
AOD Indigenous Communities Project Coordinator