- This is a mixed-methods research project examining the current NT alcohol treatment services system. It provides an assessment of how much treatment is currently provided; how much should be provided to meet current demand; and the challenges, barriers and opportunities associated with the planning and delivery of alcohol treatment services in the NT.
- The project is modelled on two recent national demand studies. The first involved a review of treatment service systems across Australia (Ritter et al., 2014). The second involved a qualitative analysis of treatment services involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Gray et al., 2014). The research design has been adapted to meet the unique population distribution, geography and service delivery context of the NT.
- The quantitative component collates 2015/2016 administrative data regarding the use of alcohol treatment services across the NT (the met demand), and compares it to the Drug and Alcohol Services Planning Model (DASPM) predicted usage, to estimate the gap (the unmet demand).
- The qualitative component provides a descriptive account of key stakeholder viewpoints from across the alcohol treatment services system. This includes a discussion about alcohol treatment types; pathways into treatment; intersections with treatment referrals from the criminal justice system; and implications of remoteness on treatment accessibility in the NT.
Implications for policy and practice:
- The experience of service providers suggests that RRS are being used as a means to secure temporary housing and accommodation for clients (particularly those clients exiting detention or seeking refuge from DFSV), rather than the primary focus of providing intensive treatment and therapeutic support. An increased investment in associated social services, particulary housing, is required to complement community based treatment. Supported accomodation is a model worth further investigation.
- The establishment of a more robust alcohol treatment service response within (rather than external to) the corrections systems is warranted. This is particularly important for sex and serious violent offenders, where there is a clear service gap.
- More cost-effective alternatives to RRS should be promoted within the child protection system, particularly in instances where child-parent reunification is the aim.
- Integrated approaches between health, housing, and justice systems to support clients entering and exiting alcohol treatment services are important. There are some examples of intensive throughcare and case management support being provided, but they are heavily reliant on an appropriate supply of accommodation.
- To allow for more effective coordinated case management and continuation of care, many participants advocated for better systems to share data when referring between agencies.
- The use of technological options, such as tele-health, could be significantly enhanced to meet the needs of remote clients with mild, moderate and severe alcohol-related health concerns.
- Strategies to build local workforce capacity and/or recruit and retain capable staff are important areas for investment.
- Further work is required to promote and track the use of AUDIT-C in primary health care settings, particularly among GPs. This may help to increase referrals between GPs and alcohol treatment services. It will also aid future analyses of alcohol treatment demand.
- Episodes of care by region are difficult to ascertain for ACCHOs through the Online Services Report (OSR). This is a significant limitation for regional health planning across the NT and highlights the importance of reviewing and improving the OSR data system.