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Enhancing Alcohol and other Drug Services in the Kimberley

The State Government committed to a statewide, integrated Methamphetamine Action Plan to reduce the demand, supply and harm from methamphetamine use, including allocating $45 million of new and existing funding over four years to deliver the key initiatives outlined in the election.

As part of this, funding of $200,000 was allocated from the Royalties for Regions (RfR) Program for the MHC to identify and undertake planning regarding gaps in alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services in the Kimberley.

The MHC contracted the Nous Group (Nous) to undertake stakeholder consultation in 2018, to inform the development of AOD and co-occurring mental health services in the Kimberley region. The Consultation Summary Report on AOD Services in the Kimberley (the Report) was prepared by Nous and outlines key themes that were raised by stakeholders throughout the consultation.

Opportunities to further enhance AOD services in the Kimberley region are presented through the Report, with eight key areas identified as existing gaps in service. These key areas are: harm reduction and personal support; consultation and liaison services; low-medical withdrawal; complex high-medical withdrawal; community day treatment programs (adult and youth); safe places for intoxicated people (youth); residential rehabilitation (youth); and post residential rehabilitation (youth).

As part of the 2019-20 Budget the State Government has allocated $11.5 million over the forward estimates to expand AOD treatment services in the Kimberley region including:

  • $9.2 million for the development of a comprehensive, specialist AOD service for young people with complex needs that includes consideration of residential rehabilitation, low medical withdrawal and stabilisation, and day programs (including ‘on-country’ programs, family intervention, co-occurring mental health and AOD, and links with other existing service providers in the Kimberley); and
  • $2.3 million for the provision of four adult low medical withdrawal beds to support withdrawal to take place in the Kimberley region, given that these services do not formally exist in the Kimberley region.

In addition to this, the State Government has committed $20.1 million through RfR, to continue core treatment and prevention services in the Pilbara and Kimberley through the North West Drug and Alcohol Support Program.

Youth AOD in the Kimberley

Nous were engaged by the MHC in late 2019 to lead the co-design of a comprehensive AOD service for young people with complex needs in the Kimberley. A literature review outlining service models for young people with AOD and co-occurring issues was completed in February 2020 and can be found here.

Co-Design Process

The development of the model of service was placed on hold in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultations in the Kimberley that were originally scheduled for April and May 2020 could not proceed due to travel bans to regional and remote areas. On 5 June 2020, borders to the Kimberley region were reopened. After consulting with key partners in the region, the co-design of the model of service recommenced in July 2020. Consultation with key stakeholders, including young people in the Kimberley and their families, informed the development of the model.

In response to concerns about consultation fatigue across the region, the MHC and the WA Primary Health Alliance integrated consultations in the East Kimberley for the co-design of the Kimberley Youth AOD Service and development of the headspace service in Kununurra. This is part of an ongoing commitment from both agencies to identify opportunities to collaborate and integrate projects where possible. Read the joint statement from the MHC and WAPHA outlining this commitment.

Service Model and Co-Design Summary

The Kimberley Youth AOD Service Model and Co-Design Summary were completed in December 2020.

The service model outlines seven different components, delivered in an integrated way with existing services that are already available in the Kimberley, to help support young people aged 10 – 18 years, and their families. There will be some flexibility for the service to work with people under 10 and up to 25 years of age if required. Ultimately, the service aims to prevent and intervene in young people's AOD use and support them to achieve meaningful and sustained improvements in their social and emotional wellbeing.

It should be noted that the contents of the two reports are the result of a comprehensive co-design process undertaken in 2020 with key stakeholders across the Kimberley region. It represents the “gold standard” of what is required in the region for young people, irrespective of cost. The reports do not reflect the views or the intentions of the Mental Health Commission.

Next Steps

Some of the components of the model already are already being delivered in the region. The MHC will complete gaps analysis and prioritisation regarding the seven different components of the service model, for each location across the Kimberley.  This will include engagement with key stakeholders as required. The MHC will commence a formal procurement process later in 2021, with a view for service(s) to commence operation in mid-2022.

List of resources

It should be noted that the contents of the Kimberley Youth AOD Service Model and the Co-Design Summary are the result of a comprehensive co-design process undertaken in 2020 with key stakeholders across the Kimberley region.  It represents the “gold standard” of what is required in the region for young people, irrespective of cost. The reports do not reflect the views or the intentions of the Mental Health Commission. The Mental Health Commission will proceed with a procurement process in 2021, where purchasing intentions will be made clear.

Low Medical Withdrawal in the Kimberley

In the 2017 Methamphetamine Action Plan (MAP), the McGowan Government committed to expand Alcohol and other Drug (AOD) treatment services in the Kimberley region. As part of the 2019-20 budget allocation, $2.3 million from 2019-20 to 2022-23 in operational funding was approved for the Mental Health Commission (MHC) to provide 4 low medical withdrawal beds in the Kimberley region.   An Open Tender process was completed in 2020, however no service provider was awarded the contract.   The MHC is continuing to have discussions with local organisations in the Kimberley region to see if a modified version of service, which meets local needs, can be achieved. 

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