Program gets community members to connect to the country

Organisers of a program designed to take men away from drug and alcohol misuse and to care for their region say the program achieved its goal.

Run by Ceduna’s Stepping Stones Alcohol and Drug Day Centre (ADAC) and the Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management board, the ‘Country Connections Program’ involved engaging local men in activities and field work, like cleaning campsites, beaches and water holes, maintenance of boundaries and park inspections.

A number of trips, some day trips and some overnight, took place to locations such as Yellabinna Regional Reserve, Yumbarra Conservation Park and the Nullarbor Regional Reserve.

Alinytjara Wilurara’s Codee Spitzkowsky was involved in running the program and said it was about letting people be responsible for their region.

“The name says it all really, it was a way to get them out of the community and into the country, where they would have responsibility,” he said.

“It mostly involved Ceduna people and they showed a sense of care for country.”

The program ran from March until the end of June and Ken Smith of ADAC said the feedback from those involved was very positive.

“There were 11 or 12 trips in the period, with up to 10 people involved in any one trip,” he said.

“They were involved in a number of activities and I think they all really enjoyed it – people showed responsibility for their country.”

Mr Spitzkowsky said the program achieved its aims of improving physical and mental health and well-being, developing positive social relationships, increasing knowledge, expertise and skills which would be suitable for employment, and helping to consider alternative lifestyle options.

“People loved it and they were enthusiastic, some really wanted to stay longer and do more work to help out,” he said.

“There was an expectation to be ready, willing and sober and those involved really made an effort to be ready to go at the centre and be sober.”

Alinda Hogg from ADAC added that the program helped to take the men involved away from harmful substances.

“It helped to get them away from drugs and alcohol and this is a positive for those involved,” she said.

Mr Spitzkowsky said the parties were keen to continue the program in the upcoming months, but further talks regarding funding would need to take place.

“Discussions are in progress,” Ms Hogg said.

She added that female clients had also expressed an interest in the program and if it were to continue it could be altered to include women.