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Junelle is the Key Supervisor of the First Peoples' Wellness program, a new initiative running as a pilot at TaskForce with the support of SEMPHN. Junelle gives us an overview of this program, comments on its importance and shares the rewards and challenges of her role within the first weeks of the program.

Inside TaskForce with Junelle

Leading Supervisor, First Peoples’ Wellness Program (FMP AOD)


When did you join TaskForce?
I was originally working with Stepping – up and merged with TaskForce, so working in this sector for 5 years.

Can you give us an overview of the First Peoples’ Wellness Program? What kind of support does it provide and to whom?
This is a pilot program and will consist of working with individuals who identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or their immediate families.

The cohort we will be working with will include individuals aged 16 years up to 55 years old.

The program will work with individuals/their family members around any concerns relating to Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) misuse, building an understanding of recovery and harm minimisation and offering supports through psychoeducation (individual and group). Additionally, short-term case management will be available to help with community linkage and the navigation into mainstream services for better awareness and response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island individuals and their families.

This will be a wraparound service. It will use a cultural lens for better outcomes and will acknowledge the emotional wellbeing of the individual and their own personal journey. We will offer a flexible approach that will look at incorporating any First Peoples’ supports that have been identified within the community (gathering place) to support their journey and connection to self, Mob and Country.

How is this program planning to address the multiple needs of First Peoples with alcohol and other drug use issues?
The program will allow First Peoples to gain access to alcohol and other drug services promptly and be able to focus on:

  • Culture
  • Aboriginal healing practices
  • Trauma-informed treatment
  • Family-centred therapeutic practices
  • Protective factors and wraparound support
  • Consideration of social and cultural determinants of health

How did this initiative start?
South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN) and the AOD sector recognise that First Peoples need extra support when accessing services. Therefore, this program was developed aiming to:

  1. Improve patients’ experience of care
  2. Enhance clinicians and stakeholders’ experiences
  3. Improve health outcomes
  4. Achieve health equity

Why is the First Peoples’ Wellness Program important?
The program is important to recognise that First Peoples need access to services that can work with them holistically and with a trauma-informed approach. First Peoples deserve to be heard and to be supported by professionals trained to work with them in a culturally safe space.

What other organisations are involved?
Family Life, Good Sheppard, Anglicare, Frankston City Council, VACCA, and Naim Marr Djambana have been excited to be involved with referrals, and many further connections are happening.

Please tell us about your role within the First Peoples’ Wellness Program.
My role within the pilot program is as the Key Supervisor. I coordinate and supervise the work of our First Peoples’ Wellness Officers, Barbara and Paige.

My role came about as I am very passionate about working with a cultural lens and have had extensive training in generational trauma practice. I am excited to be part of the initial stages of the program and support Barb and Paige in their roles.

What has been the most rewarding part of being part of the First Peoples’ Wellness Program so far?
We have had some good referrals come through. I am enjoying the collaboration with other programs within TaskForce, and how we support one another with warm handovers. We have overcome time constraints for waitlists, with clients getting support within a week from initial intake.

What are the main challenges you recognise will be faced in the upcoming months?
As for many programs that are starting as a pilot, there is always going to be trial and error, but nothing we cannot work on together as a team.

Finally, tell us how people can reach out to the First Peoples’ Wellness Program team if support is needed.
Referrals and further information can be requested to Barb, Paige or myself by emailing or calling (03) 9532 0811

Also, brochures, referral forms and information on the website are almost ready to access!