Each year the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) hosts an international conference bringing together professionals working in therapeutic communities, researchers and clinicians in the Alcohol and Drug (AOD) field and affiliated areas. Therapeutic Communities (TCs) are an integral element of a comprehensive response to drug and alcohol issues in our community, nationally and internationally.

The 2016 30th Anniversary ATCA Conference marked a significant milestone in the ATCA history.  The theme, “Come sit together” marked the conferences as a gathering, which was held in Melbourne on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people, members of the Kulin Nation, whose culture and traditions remain strong.

For many years, the Australasian Therapeutic Community Association (ATCA) has brought together people who share a passion for TCs, and who understand the benefits of sharing ideas, of listening, and learning from one another. Our membership is made up of over 42 organisations from across Australia and New Zealand, offering more than 70 Therapeutic Community and Residential Rehabilitation programs to young people, to adults, and to families. Increasingly, our member organisations also deliver a broad range of other community based programs and services that complement, extend and support our TCs.

Over time, we have modified our programs to better meet the needs of those seeking our help, and we have incorporated and generated new evidence about what works. The 2016 ATCA conference emphasized the partnerships and program elements that can assist us to improve the access, relevance and cultural safety of our programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander, and other First Nations peoples.

The conference provided an impressive line-up of speakers bringing a range of academic, international, practice-wisdom and consumer perspectives. In addition to some traditional conference plenary sessions, paper presentations, workshops, and visits, the 2016 gathering included other styles of learning such as message stick presentations and yarning circles.  Participants were encouraged to engage in and be open to learning from them and responded enthusiastically to the invitation.

We would like to thank members of the conference organising committee who included Lynne Magor-Blatch (ATCA), Stefan Gruenert, Tim Flora & David Dryden (Odyssey House Victoria), Anne- Maree Kaser, Clare Davies & David Scott (Windana), Damian Philp (Youth Support and Advocacy Service – YSAS), Gurdip Chima (Salvation Army), Glenn Howard (Ngwala Willumbong Ltd.), and Craig Holloway (Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc. – VACCHO) who joined us to support the development of the conference as a genuine first people’s event hosted by a “mainstream” association.

We had delegates from across Australia and New Zealand, Europe, Canada and Asia. There are significant opportunities and challenges ahead, and we welcomed contributions to the gathering from all participants.  We came and sat together, and were inspired, stimulated and enriched.

Presentations are provided below:

Anne Carroll – Rainbow Connection
Barry Evans – ATCA Standard
Creative Practice & Mutual Recovery
Embracing the potential of youth
HEP C treatment and program participation
IHCA Standard for TCs and Residential Rehab Services
Indigenous Australians in the Justice System
Indigenous Narratives about alcohol impacts and sobriety
James Pitts – ATCA 2016 Gathering
Jenny Boyle – Primary Care Demonstration
Kate Jeffries – Communicare Breathing Space
Making a Difference – Starting to assess the impact of a modified TC in Bhutan
Mingu Yabun Group with movement
National Comorbidity Guidelines
Noffs PALM Street Cred
Odyssey Community Hub – ATCA 2016
PALM In Numbers Teenagers and Ice
What about the B in LGB Bisexual drug use and implications for treatment
Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place
Youth Odyssey and the Waikato youth alcohol and drug project