Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney have been awarded $1.7 million over four years for a program of work focused on the prevention of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and harms in rural and regional NSW.
The program will be co-chaired by NDARC and the NSW Health Centre for Alcohol and Other Drugs.
Lead researcher, NDARC’s Dr Sara Farnbach says the collaboration encompasses three key activity areas that extend and complement the work of the two organisations.
The first activity area is focused on community-led responses to reducing AOD use and harms.
‘We will determine the distribution of AOD harms and partner with willing communities to co-design and evaluate strategies to reduce those issues,’ Dr Farnbach says.
‘NDARC has collaborated closely with regional communities to address alcohol harms and we will build on that work.’
The second activity area is supporting rural GPs to implement AOD primary prevention strategies.
NDARC engages with GPs as opioid substitution treatment providers and will explore new areas of AOD harm prevention.
‘We will focus on increasing the capacity of rural GPs to successfully deliver interventions that have strong evidence for their effectiveness,’ Dr Farnbach says.
The third activity area is the co-design, implementation, and evaluation of a process for the uptake of trauma informed care in rural and remote AOD services.
Responding to the detrimental impact of trauma on health and wellbeing is a national health system challenge.
‘Trauma and adverse childhood experiences are widespread, and particularly prevalent among people who develop AOD dependence,’ Dr Farnbach says.
‘There is already strong evidence for the benefits of providing trauma informed care for patients and staff, and that health services are willing to implement it.
‘This project will complement NSW Health’s existing focus on this approach by co-designing a process for rural health services to deliver trauma informed care in practice.’
The $1.7 million in funding for this program of work was announced as part of NSW Health’s Prevention Research Support Program (PRSP), which is designed to support NSW research organisations conducting prevention and early intervention research that aligns with NSW Health priorities.
The program supports research infrastructure and strategies to build research capability and translate evidence from research into policy and practice.