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This was an innovation project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisation

Otway Health


  • Lorne Community Hospital
  • Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery Inc.


In 2016, the number of Colac Otway Shire residents undergoing drug and alcohol treatment was 9.2 per 1,000 people, almost two times the Victorian average. Drug use and possession convictions had doubled and episodes of care for methamphetamine misuse had also increased by more than 40 per cent. 

The local health services, Otway Health and Lorne Community Hospital, had limited capacity to deliver targeted or mandated drug and alcohol support to the local community. Travel, particularly a lack of public transport, also posed a significant barrier to people seeking access to support services for alcohol and other drugs (AoD).

To address this, the health services partnered with Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery, a major drug and alcohol recovery facility located in Melbourne, to design a telehealth service model to improve access to specialist care.


  • Increase the number of clients seeking and receiving treatment for their AoD issue via the telehealth service
  • Improve AoD clients’ treatment rate of completion
  • Increase complex care coordination and case conferencing to ensure greater compliance with rehabilitation programs and address any co-morbidities as they arise
  • Increase community awareness of the impact of AoD and available services
  • Upskill local staff and improve their confidence in managing AoD clients and engaging in referrals
  • Define and document key telehealth service components to inform the design of future telehealth initiatives in regional and rural health services


  • Increased local clinicians’ confidence in discussing AoD issues with clients and referring them to appropriate services
  • Identified valuable learnings about the AoD client cohort that can be used to inform the roll out of future telehealth and AoD services in regional areas of Australia, including:
    • the importance of building trust and rapport through initial face-to-face engagement with a qualified AoD outreach worker
    • the need to provide individual client pathway planning to provide more person-centred care


February 2018 – Both Lorne Community Hospital and Otway Health are actively seeking funding support for ongoing AoD outreach services based on the success of the revised model.  

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