New consortium, Odyssey House, to lead Port Stephens Community Drug Action Team

Port Stephens Community Drug Action Team chairman Dave Sams.
Port Stephens Community Drug Action Team chairman Dave Sams.

Promised extra funding and resources would allow the Port Stephens Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) to expand its programs in support of the prevention and reduction of alcohol and illicit drugs in the community.

This was the view of Port Stephens CDAT liaison officer Rob Hoile, who went on to say that the boost in funding would allow the not-for-profit organisation to become more pragmatic with the programs they administer in the Port Stephens community.

Mr Hoile said that the changes had been made possible due to the appointment of a new consortium to manage CDAT programs appointed on January 1 this year.

The new project management team is being led by Odyssey House, taking over from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) which will continue to operate Local Drug Action Teams (LDAT). CDAT is state funded, while LDAT is federally funded.

"My understanding is that Odyssey House are in the process of recruiting key team members and that we will have more funding and program objectives," Mr Hoile said.

"This is great news for our organisation and will allow us to develop and expand our programs across the Port."

CDAT, a volunteer organisation chaired by Dave Sams and includes local solicitor Brooke Vitnell as well as Mr Hoile, was established in Port Stephens four years ago to raise awareness and promote measures for the prevention and reduction of alcohol and illicit drugs.

Mr Hoile had previously stated that the primary objectives were to create a grassroots support network for families affected by drug and/or alcohol abuse and establish support groups such as Smart Recovery, Smart Family and Smart Youth.

"It is also part of CDAT's agenda to help youths displaying at-risk behaviours."

Odyssey House program director David Kelly said that the Sydney-based organisation and its partners were delighted to be appointed by NSW Health to deliver the CDAT program in NSW.

"Through a new community, engagement and connection consortium, comprising Odyssey House, The Buttery, Karralika Programs and Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Services Incorporated, we will support local volunteer groups to continue their excellent work in the community," he said.

"We are committed to a smooth transition and will work with the ADF to ensure that this occurs. The consortium will work closely with NSW Health and will also be supported by a cross-sector advisory panel comprising delegates from health, police, justice, research, education, and consumer rights as well as local government and primary health networks.

"Together we will extend and build new effective support networks to meet the needs of the Port Stephens and Hunter communities. there may even be an opportunity where the CDAT groups from the Hunter may work together on major projects."

Mr Kelly said it was hoped that the partners would bring together their local expertise, knowledge, and connections to meet CDAT's objectives and build strong partnerships, identify alcohol and other drug-related issues, and increase community knowledge to develop local initiatives, goals and resilience.

"At the end of the day with more funding, we are confident that CDAT groups including that of Port Stephens will have the opportunity to roll out more programs ... we will not be telling them how to run the show, they are the experts in their community and they know their community needs."