Multicultural Drug and Alcohol Partnership
The Multicultural Alcohol and Drug Partnership (MDAP) aims to support young people from the South Sudanese community experiencing harm from alcohol and drug (AoD) use. The program focuses on working with young people, their families and the broader community using principles of health promotion, harm reduction and community development.
Why work with families and community?
Engaging families and community in the project provides the opportunity to learn more about the impact of issues such as stigma, shame and guilt, poor employment and education opportunities and how they can lead to harmful AoD use. Family and community have an important role supporting young people to move away from harmful AoD use and towards a more positive future.
The MDAP forum
On December 10, the Multicultural Drug and Alcohol Partnership (MDAP) conducted an online community forum with members of the South Sudanese community, other African diaspora communities, and workers from community organisations.
The forum provided firstly, an opportunity for the MDAP team to introduce themselves to the wider community in preparation for starting community outreach in 2021. During 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions the MDAP team were unable to outreach into the community. Secondly, the forum offered an opportunity for people from our African Australian communities to share their thoughts about the barriers faced when seeking information about alcohol and other drugs, and accessing treatment.
Community members also shared ideas for overcoming the barriers as well as identifying community needs for support and services.
What did community tell us?
A number of themes emerged from the discussions, these include:
- Lack of culturally responsive services – Current services are designed for the mainstream population and do not offer culturally appropriate treatment, support or information for African communities. For the minority that do access treatment, the external stressors continue to exist, such as remaining stigma associated with their past AoD use and lack of employment opportunities, which leads them back to their old social groups and harmful AoD use.
- Existence of shame, guilt and stigma – These factors keep alcohol and other drug use hidden, and so people are less likely to seek support if they are experiencing harm from their AoD use. Supporting people to have conversations about alcohol and other drugs to improve understanding about possible causes, and the effects, of AoD use was suggested as a way to reduce the stigma, shame and guilt associated with AoD use.
- Importance of involving parents – Involving parents in education about alcohol and other drugs, as well as including them when supporting young people to reduce their AoD use, was emphasised by many participants of the forum, as essential to minimising the harms of AoD use in the community.
- Need for good role models – Many forum attendees suggested that good role models in the community would inspire young people to achieve. Using role models with lived experience to share their experiences of harmful AoD use and overcoming it, was positively viewed as a way to show community that using AoD does not mean a person is hopeless.
- Addressing underlying causes of AoD use – Many people use AoD to manage negative feelings as well as mental illness and trauma. Supporting people to manage these was seen as an important part of preventing harmful AoD use, or supporting people to reduce their use.
What will MDAP do next?
The MDAP team will be incorporating these valuable insights into our plans and practice as we move into 2021.
We continue to serve the community by:
- Taking referrals to support young South Sudanese Australians achieve their goals and reduce AoD use.
- Offering education sessions about AoD to community groups.
- Working with the AoD workforce to deliver culturally appropriate services.