Applications are now open for the Local Drug Action Team Program, a joint initiative of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation and the Australian Government which provides community organisations with funding to address alcohol and drug issues.
The LDAT program invites three or more community groups to work together on preventative measures designed by and for local people – a collaborative approach that the region’s support workers say is much needed.
Deb Pearse from the Byron Youth Service said: ‘COVID has exacerbated problems that we already have, because during that period, young people felt very isolated.’
In-person youth services are slowly coming back to life after the COVID shutdown. Sylvia Roylance, Youth Development Officer at Tweed Shire Council and member of the Tweed LDAT, said in-school activities would be an option again from Term Two.
Ms Roylance said the Tweed LDAT ‘[has] been providing funding to support the after-school program that is being delivered out of Murwillumbah Community Centre, and that’s been running quite successfully.’
The Tweed LDAT is made up of more than eight community organisations including police, Council and the Red Cross. Among other things, it has enabled homework workshops, Aboriginal leadership programs, and support for early school leavers such as funding for accreditation in a trade.
‘I think the important thing is to provide programs and services that are holistic and individual,’ said Deb Pearce, who is the Senior Youth Worker and Program Coordinator of Mullum Cottage and Street Crews and has worked at Byron Youth Service for 21 years.
‘Work out what’s going on with people and why they’re self-medicating… Find their passion, find what they love, what they’re interested in, what gets them up in the morning, and try and provide opportunities for them to explore that, and often that will make an enormous difference.’
Ms Pearce said the Byron Youth Service would welcome conversations with other community groups about banding together for funding.
There are over 230 LDATs running around Australia. The teams can address issues ranging from foetal alcohol spectrum disorder to pharmaceutical abuse by the elderly.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation CEO, Dr Erin Lalor said: ‘No community is the same and we know that locally-led responses are the most effective when it comes to addressing the challenges of alcohol and other drugs.’
LDATs only work on preventative measures, not treatment. Member organisations can be varied, such as councils, police and sports teams, and do not have to be traditionally involved in the drug and alcohol sector.
Applications for the LDAT program close on March 5. More information can be found at https://community.adf.org.au/local-drug-action-teams/program-overview/.