Working together in prison-based drug and alcohol treatment: a cultural/clinical model
This presentation explores a cultural / clinical model being used in a criminogenic drug and alcohol program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in Victoria’s public prisons. The 44-hour program brings together cultural and clinical frameworks to help participants address issues with substance use and offending, and to improve social and emotional wellbeing.
Cultural frameworks recognise that strengthening cultural connection is essential to healing and social and emotional wellbeing, so the program focuses on providing opportunities for cultural connection that help participants explore the problems they come to treatment with, as well as to build strengths and to develop a pathway forward. In one of the program activities the men produce a group artwork that tells the story of their journey through the program and beyond. The clinical framework provides support for participants to move through the process of change. The clinician’s role is to respond to the treatment needs of participants and to facilitate behaviour change. In an environment of cultural strength and safety, participants can better integrate skills for preventing relapse and recidivism. Both the cultural and the clinical come together in a trauma informed approach to help men in custody to make changes, to address their substance use and to connect back to country.
In giving this presentation, program facilitators Uncle Ron and Christy hope to offer an example of how the cultural / clinical model supports incarcerated Aboriginal men on their pathway to healing, and to share their own experiences in building the cultural / clinical co-facilitation relationship. The presentation will discuss the challenges for the program and how these have been worked though, but will focus on the successes of working together, and the outcomes and experiences of the men who have participated.