The Department of Health and Human Services has funded a new Uniting Wimmera program to address the increasing need for alcohol and other drug services

A new Uniting Wimmera program is being funded to help people access alcohol and other drug services quicker.
A new Uniting Wimmera program is being funded to help people access alcohol and other drug services quicker.

​WIMMERA residents seeking help with family reunification orders will experience quicker access times to alcohol and other drug services.

Uniting Wimmera has received a share in $1.9 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to fund a new program.

It will enable parents with children subjected to a family reunification order faster access to AOD services.

The new service will complement existing AOD and child and family services offered by Uniting including ChildFIRST, support, family counselling and mediation.

Uniting Wimmera client engagement and child service manager Josh Koenig said the funding would provide much-needed support for vulnerable groups.

“It will give locals more options,” Mr Koenig said.

“This is an increasing issue for our region and the need for this funding is highly important.

“It will also create an employment opportunity with a new role.”

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Mr Koenig said 65 per cent of cases encountered in Uniting Wimmera’s Integrated Family Services program required help with AOD support.

“Those people have had to access support via the same pathways as everyone else and the wait lists could mean that being reunited with their children took a lot longer,” Mr Koenig said.

“Now we will be able to work with parents to offer intensive, wrap-around support to aid their recovery and increase their ability to provide a safe environment for their children.”

Mr Koenig said as the region’s population grew, the demand for AOD services expanded as well.

“At the moment our wait list period isn’t that long. 

“But as demand increases, this new funding will allow us to assist with reunification in a more timely manner.”

He said Uniting was constantly looking for more opportunities to cater to the community’s needs.

“This type of support is something that we’ve been looking at for a long time,” he said.

“We are always on the lookout for more funding to provide these services to the community.”

Uniting executive officer Wendy Sturgess.

Uniting executive officer Wendy Sturgess.

Uniting’s executive officer Wendy Sturgess said the funding was a major step forward in addressing the impact of alcohol and other drug use in the Wimmera.

“We’re looking forward to making AOD services more accessible in the Wimmera,” she said.

“Better services will mean more recovery and fewer lives lost. 

“Existing services have often struggled to meet the demand and more intensive services such as detox and rehab are only available in Ballarat and Melbourne.”

Mr Koenig said Wimmera residents in need of support could contact Uniting on 1800 195 114.

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