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Teresa Ma

Manager SECADA


What does SECADA mean?
It is the South East Consortium of Alcohol and Drug Agencies. We are made up of: Windana, TaskForce, Monash Health, Odyssey House and YSAS.

What does SECADA do?
We help clients who have issues with alcohol and substance misuse in the southeast. Mostly in the City of Greater Dandenong and the Shire of Cardinia. Intake covers Casey as well.

What does TaskForce do within SECADA?
The five SECADA agencies have different responsibilities and treatment pathways.

TaskForce looks after voluntary and forensic counselling, voluntary and forensic care and recovery, intake, some assessment, and we also run forensic Choices groups and KickStart groups. So quite varied types of treatments for alcohol and substance misuse.

What do you do in your work each day?
There are nine people on my team: counsellors and care recovery coordinators. I help with any questions they have about their clinical work. I support staff in supporting their clients and help ensure best practices and evidence-based theories are used. I also provide operational and clinical supervision.

What was your path to becoming a manager at SECADA?
I started as a volunteer counsellor at TaskForce. Then TaskForce employed me as an AOD (alcohol and other drugs) counsellor. I also did care recovery coordination, was a team leader and then was promoted to manager.

What more could be done to help more people through the SECADA program?
Of course, we would love more funding and more help from the government.

But the key is problem-solving and looking at the issues that we are experiencing now and, with current resources, looking at how we can make things work better so we can help more people.

How could things work better?
One idea would be to create an online system for clients who cannot call us during business hours to complete intake.

Many of our clients don’t want to speak on the phone and spend half an hour telling us their life stories, which we need them to tell us again in the assessment.

So, if we can take advantage of technology to make our service more accessible, especially for those who are not familiar with the AOD support system, that would cut out the stress for people having to keep telling their stories.

How does TaskForce support the future of AOD counselling?
We take on counselling and social work students who work with us as part of their studies. Applying to SECADA and working with our team means that they already have a special interest in working with people experiencing drug and alcohol addiction.

By providing students with experience and supporting them, it helps them gain the practical skills that will help them find work in this area when they graduate. We have employed a few of them as well, so it works.

Tell us a bit about TaskForce working in partnership to deliver the drug and alcohol program.
Having so many agencies with differing responsibilities in the same building here at SECADA in Dandenong means we can quickly and easily connect and collaborate with those agencies to help clients. Often it is just a quick walk down the hall, a short chat and the solution starts. It is a very strong, practical model.

Is there an area of need for alcohol and other drug services that is not being adequately serviced?
There’s such a huge problem for employees in hospitality with drug and alcohol misuse.

Hospitality-focused AOD counselling with intervention that is more applicable or customised for this sector is needed because of the stress, the strange work hours, the double shifts, having to be nice to customers, the temptation to have a quick drink before work and so on.

There are 478,000 Australians working in hospitality. A specific program for hospitality is needed because regular counselling is inaccessible for these workers and asking them to come through the public system and then wait months for a counsellor is not appropriate.