Volatile substance use in Mount Isa : community solutions to a community identified issue


In November 2001 a forum for government and non-government service providers and community members was held to raise awareness of the problem of volatile substance misuse in Mount Isa and to begin to effectively and appropriately address this self-harm issue. Figures provided by the Queensland Police Service along with anecdotal evidence from youth workers indicated that there were approximately fifty young people (aged between 8 and 16) regularly participating in this self-harming practice with at least twenty five of these identified young people classed as chronic misusers. The forum resulted in the formation of the Mount Isa Volatile Substance Misuse Action Group, a collaborative partnership between twelve service providers and community members. An action plan was developed which addressed the principles of harm minimisation (Demand Reduction, Supply Reduction and Harm Reduction) and incorporated a range of strategies, which addressed volatile substance misuse across the spectrum of prevention, intervention and treatment. These strategies included: a voluntary supply reduction project in collaboration with local traders; a Family Healing Program, which used bush camps, school and youth centre activities, mentoring and family case management to address the psychosocial issues relating to chronic volatile substance misuse; upskilling teachers, parents and other interested adult community members in volatile substance misuse; developing and implementing appropriate protocols with Queensland Police Service and Mount Isa Base Hospital; and implementing programs that build the capacity of young people to recognise and address issues of self-esteem, resiliency and other emotional wellbeing issues. All strategies have been implemented and process evaluations have shown a positive impact on addressing volatile substance misuse.

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