In 1985, the Social Issues in Australia Survey was conducted to obtain benchmark data on attitudes to drugs, and led to the establishment of The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse, following a Special Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne. The conference brought together treatment providers from across Australia, including a small group of people who were operating residential treatment programs as Therapeutic Communities (TCs) but who had remained largely unconnected from each other.
In 1986, following the Special Premiers’ Conference, this group met at Odyssey House in Melbourne and agreed to the establishment of the Australian (later to become the Australasian) Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA). ATCA was established as a membership association whose purpose was to bring together Therapeutic Communities from across Australia & New Zealand and to support and promote the TC as a method of treatment for substance dependency.
From 1986 – 2006, ATCA operated as a voluntary group with an elected Board of Management, providing peer support and training to its members and working together to ensure quality standards of treatment were maintained. In 2006, the Association received a grant from the Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing which provided funding to establish a secretariat to, “provide information aimed at improving the quality of TC services in the areas of treatment, research, education and support”. This grant facilitated the employment of an Executive Officer to take responsibility for fulfilling these goals.
Since 2006, ATCA membership has grown by 70%, with ATCA members managing 69 TCs in community and custodial settings across Australia and New Zealand. ATCA members also provide a range of non-residential services, and over the course of a year will provide residential services to over 9,000 people and out-client support to a further 24,000. These services include detoxification units, family, gambling and mental health counselling, child care facilities, family support programs, exit housing and outreach services.
TCs are a proven model of effective treatment for a range of issues, including substance use and mental health, and have been shown to be especially effective for people with coexisting mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) conditions and those affected by chronic substance dependency. The research base is steadily growing through active partnerships between member agencies and universities. Of particular note are the partnerships with the Universities of New South Wales, Newcastle, Wollongong, Monash and Deakin, with a growing number of papers published in quality peer reviewed journals in Australia and internationally.
The support of the Australian Government through the Department of Health was further enhanced in 2008, with funding to develop the ATCA Standard. The ATCA Standard was first launched in 2009 and since that time has been trialed and modified through peer review. In 2014 the ATCA Standard for Therapeutic Communities and Residential Rehabilitation Services was certified by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) and is now available on the ATCA website (http://www.atca.com.au/atca-standard/) . Also available on the website is the Interpretive Guide to assist TCs and residential services wishing to undertake a review or accreditation against the ATCA Standard.
To navigate your way to the ATCA Standard, click on the Members tab at the top of this page, and then on ATCA Standard, where you will find a copy of the ATCA Standard and the ATCA Interpretive Guide, together with information on the ATCA Quality Portal, which has been developed in partnership with Breaking New Ground.
The Therapeutic Community model of treatment is recognised and embraced by community and governments across Australasia.
We support, represent and advocate for programs that restore a sense of self, hope and belonging through the use of the Therapeutic Community model of treatment.
- To advance the Therapeutic Communities Model in Australasia
- To promote community awareness of the Therapeutic Communities Model of treatment in Australasia
- To ensure consistency in approach through the application of the ATCA Essential Elements in practice
- To encourage capacity building in Therapeutic Communities through a variety of peer support and professional development opportunities
- To advocate for recognition and funding for Therapeutic Communities in Australasia
- To encourage and support ongoing research into the Therapeutic Communities Model
- To support and network with organisations and individuals interested in, or aspiring to become members of the ATCA
Looking for some support?
This website provides the names and contact details of ATCA members, all of which are available to help you or someone you know who has an alcohol or other drug problem.
Navigating the system is easy –
- Click on the Referrals button at the top of this page
- Select the location (Australian state or territory or New Zealand) from the drop-down box
- This will then open a further drop-down box with a list of TCs (e.g. there are 15 listed in NSW)
- Click on the name of a TC and follow the information provided on referrals
There are many things to consider when you are seeking treatment and rehabilitation for yourself or someone in your life.
We are here to help, and wish you well on this important journey.
Our Reconciliation Vision
ATCA has always acknowledged the need to ensure that our services are both accessible and appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds. Cultural security is about ensuring that the delivery of health services is such that no one person is afforded a less favourable outcome simply because she or he holds a different cultural outlook.
ATCA is committed to applying this principle in practice across all aspects of organisational governance and planning, service delivery and all relationships with individuals and organisations. We aim to further develop positive relationships and ways of working that will contribute to improving the health and wellbeing and dignity of all Australasians.
ATCA is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH). We acknowledge the financial support provided to the ATCA Secretariat and to the development and implementation of the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) Standard.