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Exploration of partnerships between rural Aboriginal communities and researchers to prevent and treat drug and alcohol-related harms: Three examples in remote NSW

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Date Commenced:
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters:

Far West Medicare Local

Drug Type:
Project Members: 
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Visiting Professorial Fellow
Ph 02 9385 0333
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Dr Courtney Breen
Adjunct Senior Lecturer
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Ms Alice Munro
Adjunct Associate Lecturer
Project Main Description: 

This project seeks to develop knowledge about effective models of partnership between rural Aboriginal communities and researchers across a range of community-led programs delivered from 2012-2016, which aimed to reduce drug and alcohol-related harm. The three models of researcher-community partnerships that are explored are:

  1. The impacts of a community-led radio drug and alcohol advertising campaign in Bourke NSW – where a partnership with researchers was established after the intervention was developed and delivered;
  2. The impacts of Breaking the Cycle funding for drug and alcohol prevention and reduction interventions from 2012-2014 on drug and alcohol related crime and hospital outcomes across four remote NSW communities – where the partnership with researcher was established during the design and implementation of the interventions; and
  3. A review of 5 years of client intake data and the model of care of a remote Aboriginal residential rehabilitation service in remote NSW – where the partnership with researchers was developed prior to the implementation of changes to the program.
Project Collaborators: External: 

Dr Julaine Allan
The Lyndon Community

Far West Medicare Local

Bourke Alcohol Working Group (BAWG)

Condobolin Alcohol Working Group

Lake Cargelligo Alcohol Working Group

Brewarrina Alcohol Working Group

Orana Haven Corporation Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre

  • Describe the impacts of a community-led drug and alcohol radio advertising campaign in Bourke NSW on community awareness and self-referrals to a local D&A service;
  • Describe the Breaking the Cycle programs implemented in four Aboriginal communities in NSW from 2012-2014;
  • Examine the impact of the BTC programs on crime and health data across the four program sites;
  • Analyse client presentation and service characteristic data for an Aboriginal residential rehabilitation treatment service from 2011-2016; and
  • Analyse interview data from staff and clients of and Aboriginal residential rehabilitation service to develop a Model of Care that is aligned with current evidence and cultural needs.
Design and Method: 

This research uses a range of mixed methods methodologies to evaluate the impacts of each different program, which depended on the type of researcher engagement (i.e. retrospective, during, or prior to program interventions). The specific methodologies include:


1. Radio advertising project:

  • Community survey
  • Referrals to drug and alcohol service


2. Breaking the Cycle evaluation:

  • Community-level crime and hospital inpatient and emergency department data
  • Analysis of program process data


3. Orana Haven review:

  • Client intake and service characteristics data from 2011-2016
  • Qualitative interviews with staff and clients
  • Review of policies and procedures
  • Observation
  • 1 paper accepted for publication with Australian Journal of Rural Health – August 2016:

Munro, A., Shakeshaft, A., Allan, J., & Snidjer, M. (2016).

  • International conference presentation – Global Addiction Conference – Venice, Oct 2016
  • National conference presentation – National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Conference (NIDAC) – Adelaide, Oct 2016
  • Two articles about residential rehabilitation evaluation in December 2016 NADA Advocate magazine – December 2016
  • NSW conferences – HETI Rural Research Congress (Armidale, November 2015); Western NSW Health Research Network (Orange, July 2015); NDARC Symposium (Sydney, September 2014).
  • Abstracts submitted for 2017: National Rural Health Conference (Cairns, April 2017); World Rural Health Conference (Cairns, May 2017); and World Public Health Conference (Melbourne, March 2017 – accepted).
  • Build knowledge about how community-led programs in rural Aboriginal drug and alcohol programs are developed, implemented, evaluated and monitored by examining community-based researcher partnerships using three practical examples;
  • Empower communities to better understand the impacts that substance misuse has in rural Australia;
  • Utilize results to advocate for more effective, evidence-based drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services in remote NSW at the local, state and federal level; and
  • Inform future research aimed at strengthening Aboriginal residential rehabilitation services in Australia.
Project Status: