Strategies for engaging and supporting recovery among isolated young people

April 10, 2017

The 4th Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference is on next month at the Mantra on View Hotel, Gold Coast over the 15th – 17th May.

Dr Robbie Lloyd, Community Relationships Manager at Port Macquarie Community College joins us next month to discuss ‘Strategies for engaging and supporting recovery among isolated young people at risk of self-harm and substance misuse on the Mid North Coast of NSW’.

On the whole North Coast of NSW there is alleged to be a large group of young people who “disappear off the radar” of education and health authorities, after failing to be engaged by the school system and/or youth and community services. Many of them are also alleged to be engaged in substance misuse. This paper will examine the evidence for such claims on the Mid North Coast (MNC) and describe several different approaches being used to engage and support young people, on a journey to reconnection and recovery from self-harm and AOD issues.

Barriers and vulnerabilities for young people (12-25 yrs) on the MNC include socio-economic disadvantage, domestic violence and other traumas, mental health and wellbeing challenges, learning difficulties that have led to stigmatisation at school, isolation since leaving mainstream education and not finding employment, as well as multi-generational unemployment.

From the experience of many headspace centres, offering free youth mental health services around Australia, young people who are experiencing such social and emotional distress often only turn up once. They run away from such help centres, even funky ones like headspace, because they feel like the experts are only stigmatising and pathologising them. This trend not only distorts official records of youth engagement, it also suggests that positive alternatives are needed to better engage and retain young people in experiences that can help to address their substance misuse and self-harming behaviours.

Consideration is needed of the experiences of groups who negotiate intersecting forms of disadvantage (homophobia/transphobia, youth and geographical disparities), such as LGBTI young people in regional Australia. While this group face poorer health and wellbeing outcomes, they simultaneously negotiate a specific set of barriers to accessing and engaging with services (QAHC, 2013; Moranadini et al., 2015; Rosenstreich, 2011). Explored here is the potential of participatory approaches to promote meaningful engagement for a group who remain under-represented in evidence, policy and practice.

Join Dr Robbie Lloyd and other industry leaders at the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference next month, for more information and to secure your spot, please visit

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