Collaborative Approach to Addressing Comorbidity in Regional Communities

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will this year be held over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Mrs Nancy Thomas, Regional Alcohol and Drug Services Counsellor/ Project Officer at Youth Family and Community Connections Inc. who will present on ‘Collaborative Approach to Addressing Comorbidity in Regional Communities’.


This presentation will explore comorbidity capacity building and collaborative projects undertaken by YFCC between 2008-2014. These projects aimed to provide streamlined service delivery and treatment to those affected by comorbidity and ensuing issues on the North West Coast of Tasmania. Projects were funded by the Federal Department of Health – Improved Services Initiative and the Substance Misuse Service Grant fund. Conference delegates will have the opportunity to hear about the journey, learnings and successes but also where gaps and/or issues still occur regarding effective and efficient service delivery.

At present YFCC coordinate the North West Regional Comorbidity Action Group (est. 2008), attended by not-for-profit and government organisations from both the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) and Mental Health (MH) sectors. The group also have a Memorandum of Understanding in place which is reviewed each year. The aim of this group is to try to eliminate clients being ‘ping ponged’ between the ATOD and MH sectors and increase case collaboration and continuity of care. Subsequent to this, YFCC provide outreach ATOD Counsellors to Richmond Fellowship Tasmania residential recovery programs and provide drug education to staff.


Triple C – Creating Conversations on Comorbidity education session was also developed in collaboration with the Salvation Army Bridge program and is delivered in schools and the broader community.

Although traction has been made regarding collaborative partnerships between the ATOD and MH sectors, there is still great potential for further growth. YFCC is currently working on a number of evidence-based approaches to address the complexity of comorbidity.

Key Learnings:
1. Effective collaboration
2. Streamlined service delivery
3. Practical approach to service delivery in under resourced remote regions


Commenced working in the Alcohol and Other Drug Sector in 2005. Occupied positions in Health Promotions and Education, Comorbidity Capacity Building, Drug Diversion, Project Work and Counselling during this time. Currently employed by Youth Family and Community Connections Inc. based in Devonport on the North West Coast.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium please visit

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