Establishing a New AOD Program in a Remote Region

April 26, 2018

The 2018 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference will be held next month over Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 May with optional workshops on Wednesday 30 May at the QT Gold Coast.

Mr Frank Coughlan, Forensic Aod Clinician with the Royal Flying Doctor Service joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘Establishing a New AOD Program in a Remote Region’.


In mid to late 2016, a decision was made by the RFDSSE (Royal Flying Doctor Service – South-Eastern Section), to investigate, and implement, an Alcohol and Other Drugs Program, in remote Far Western NSW.

Prior to this, the RFDSSE had one AOD clinician working from Broken Hill, covering outlying regions only, and there had only been a couple of programs dealing with AOD, in the region, and their criteria were limited to either Mental Health issues, or Indigenous persons.

There were almost no AOD-specific treatment or services, in these remote regions, and such services as there were, tended to be irregular, and unreliable, due to staffing problems, or geographical issues. The new program was designed to operate in remote centres, and provide regular AOD treatment services.

In March-April 2017, the RFDSSE employed 3 specifically trained and experienced, AoD Clinicians, and 3 Community Engagement Workers, to be based in Dubbo, Cobar, and Broken Hill, and this team would deliver AOD treatment services to an area equivalent to the area of the U.K.

The RFDS AOD Program commenced operations in late May of 2017, with only a general indication of the job to be done. The team developed their own Referral Forms, Assessment Tools, etc., and engaged with local agencies (Corrections, Mental Health, GP’s, Hospitals, etc.), to promote the new service.

Since its inception, the RFDS AOD Program has established treatment clinics at a number of remote locations, for example, Wilcannia, Menindee, Bourke, Gilgandra, and has expanded to other outlying remote areas.

The establishment of the RFDS AOD Program has had its problems, however, it continues to grow and to date is very successful, in meeting remote community requirements.


20-plus years’ experience as a Forensic AoD Clinician, and has worked in Community Health Services and private AoD facilities; Private Practitioner; Former Clinical Advisor to the Drug Court of Victoria; Advocate for drug treatment over incarceration; Clinical Advisor to the legal fraternity; Currently working as a Forensic AoD Clinician with the RFDS in Broken Hill.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference please visit the conference website.



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