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Targeting inhalant use head on in Mt Isa

A holistic approach to inhalant misuse sees intervention, prevention and community engagement reduce inhalant misuse. 

Mount Isa Volatile Substance Misuse Service provides support and assistance to young people aged 12 to 17 years who already use, or are at risk of using, alcohol, cannabis, or sniffing petrol, glue or deodorants. Program manager Liz Toeke said the service aims to reduce harms associated with volatile substance misuse among young people in Mount Isa by offering a range of interventions. She attributed their ongoing success to a holistic approach that focuses on early intervention, prevention and community engagement in the following ways:

Outreach – A coordinated team targeting ‘hot spots’ in Mt Isa to prevent young people engaging in volatile substance misuse.

Diversionary – Offering sporting and recreational activities to deter young people from using substances or taking part in other risk-taking behaviours.

‘Drop-in’ service – Providing young people access to nutritional food, laundry/bathroom amenities and recreational activities in a safe supervised space.

Rest & recovery – Providing young people recovering from the effects of substance misuse with a safe, supervised environment to receive medical health checks and an overnight stay, if required.

Planned support – Offering a coordinated approach to address issues behind young people’s substance misuse including family support, assistance with accessing detox clinics, referrals to medical services, case management of issues and needs and access to other programs locally and regionally.

The success of the program has led to its expansion into other areas.

Ms Toeke said Youth Headspace was established in 2011 to tackle mental health and curb the rates of youth self-harm, abuse and suicide among indigenous youth. She said it was also working closely with government and community stakeholders to support the delivery of youth development programs in remote Gulf communities. “We have changed our approach in recent years from focusing just on individuals to developing a community support response,” Ms Toeke said.