First Nations Innovation and Partnership Award. Therapeutic Community Movement in Australasia: Organisational Award

In 2017 ATCA honoured two of its members in this category:

  • Odyssey House Victoria Women’s Koori Justice Program aims to “close the gap” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seeking support and intervention for addiction and associated issues. Initial successes in the program’s Circuit Breaker program showed 20% of the population were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, and these residents were making up 25% of program completions. This compared with 2% Aboriginal engagement in all other programs across the organisation.

Consultation with Aboriginal community elders and the employment of suitably qualified and respected individuals, lead to the development of an Aboriginal Advisory Group and Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, ratified in 2013, and in 2017, the organisation has submitted its “Stretch RAP”.

The organisation has collaborated widely, they have engaged in professional development and addressed a range of AOD health related issues and have increased the number of Aboriginal service users across the whole organisation.

  • Goldbridge and The Henderson first established a partnership in 2014, which included individual mentoring sessions to identify strengths and awareness for the future. This was further developed in 2016 to provide a unique support program to First Nation’s people leaving prison and in 2017, this partnership has further expanded through the work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are undertaking sentences within Gatton Correctional Facility, linking them with the TC’s many services for support for AOD issues on release.

The establishment of an Advisory Group has assisted in this work, providing objective clinical and program advice to ensure residents are receiving culturally secure advice and support.

Excellence in Research and Evaluation: Therapeutic Community Research Award

  • WHOS; Illawarra Institute for Mental Health, University of Wollongong; and NDARC, University of New South Wales formed a partnership across three organisations, including two university-based research institutes, to improve the capacity of people living with co-occurring mental illness, establishing a program of research at the commencement of the project. The longitudinal action research designed study aimed to:
  1. Identify the capacity of TCs to address co-occurring mental illness; and
  2. Identify and articulate implementation strategies that can guide improvements in the way that TCs respond to mental illness comorbidities.

Throughout the study, the group addressed a number of secondary outcomes including identification of health needs, such as smoking, healthy lifestyles and health literacy.  The team has now completed seven annual reviews across the 9-year project.  The use of the DDCAT has shown the organisation is Dual Diagnosis Capable, and is a world-first in the TC context, leading to both publications and conference presentations.

Significant Contribution to the Therapeutic Community Movement in Australasia: Program, Service or Intervention

In 2017, after due consideration, the judges agreed to highly commend a program that has made a long-term commitment to Harm Reduction, and to the education and promotion of wellbeing, healthy lifestyle and harm reduction initiatives across the six TCs that come under the organisation’s umbrella:  

  • The WHOS Harm Reduction Program has made a progressively expanding commitment to harm reduction commencing in 1986 in step with the Commonwealth Government’s Harm Minimisation approach to the Drug Strategy. Education is essential to ensure the message of safe drug use and safe sex is being received by the clients accessing the organisation’s services. There is an emphasis on overdose prevention and Harm Reduction Workers are allocated to each service and nursing staff oversee onsite clinics, liaising with community GPs, Sexual Health Services and BBV services.

Significant Contribution to Therapeutic Community Organisational Development –  Individual Award

In 2017, we recognised the work of one individual whose contribution to the development and growth of the TC model within his own organisation has been significant:

  • Brian Holt, Therapy and Operations Manager, Odyssey House New South Wales has been working in Odyssey House residential services for the past 25 years. He is a senior graduate of the residential program who commenced his employment with Odyssey in a therapist role in 1992. In 1996, he was appointed to the role of Coordinator at the Admissions and Referral Centre, and after 9 years moved to the position of Manager of the Odyssey House Admissions and Referral Centre and Withdrawal Unit.  In 2005, the Withdrawal Unit was presented with the Excellence in Treatment Award at the National Awards.  In 2010, with a number of organisational changes being made, the recipient of this award moved into a new position overseeing three departments across two treatment sites and in 2015, he assumed a new role managing the Therapy department.

Brian demonstrates his ongoing commitment and support to residents in treatment as he embraces the ethos of the Therapeutic Community with integrity and passion.  He is a living inspiration to Odyssey House staff and residents and over the years has provided support to approximately 15,500 clients.

Honorary Life Membership

In 2017, the ATCA Board agreed to expand the ATCA Affiliate membership category and establish Honorary Life Membership, which may be granted to an individual in recognition of commitment and services rendered to the Association and its membership.

Each nomination for Honorary Life Membership must be considered on its merits and the following principles considered in granting Honorary Life Membership:

  • Honorary Life Membership is a great honour.
  • It is not considered as a competitive process.
  • Nominees must be considered individually and on their personal attributes, achievements, commitment and contribution to the Therapeutic Community model and to the Association and its membership.
  • Honorary Life Membership is reserved for those whose contribution goes beyond the ordinary for an extended period of time.

In 2017, ATCA honoured two individuals who have had long and active membership of ATCA and the ATCA Board.  They have demonstrated significant contribution to the Association and in the national, state and territory arenas that has furthered the position of the Association and its membership.

Barry Evans and James Pitts were honoured for their significant and considerable contribution to the Association and its members over more than 30 years.