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Media Releases

ATCA Conference Press Release – Perth

2011 Awards for Excellence in Drug Treatment

Canberra Times Opinion Piece – NSPs in prisons – 7 January 2011

Prison TC programmes help cut crime 1st November 2010

Opinion piece – Sydney Morning Herald 3rd September 2010

Canberra Times article July 2010

17th September 2009

14th September 2009

21st August 2008

30th May 2008

30th April 2008

14th April 2008

24th February 2008

18th June 2007

21st May 2007

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7th February 2007

Opinion piece – Celebrity Rehab


WHOS Hunter Valley

WHOS Hunter Valley

Phone:(02) 4991 7000
Fax:(02) 4991 7184
PO Box 628
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:

WHOS Hunter Valley® TC is a 4 – 6 months Residential Therapeutic Community (TC) for men and women set in the regional area of the Hunter Valley NSW. Its goal is to help individuals find freedom from alcohol and other drug dependence (AOD) and discover a better way of living.
WHOS Hunter Valley (Cessnock, NSW) is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and supported by NSW Ministry of Health (HNELHD).

Ted Noffs Foundation – PALM ACT

Ted Noffs Foundation - PALM ACT

Phone (02) 6123-2400
PO Box 132
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:

The Ted Noffs Foundation’s Program for Adolescent Life Management (PALM) is a ten bed community for 13 to 18 year old young people who have experienced problems with their drug or alcohol use and who wish to get their lives back on track.
Surrounded by bush and farmland on a five acre block near the edge of Canberra in Watson, PALM provides a safe and healthy environment where you can get the support you need to work through your problems and develop the skills to make positive changes in your life. You can stay for up to three months but we are also happy to work with you to plan a shorter period that will meet your particular needs.
In your time at PALM you’ll be able to work with individual counsellors and in groups to tackle any problems that drugs or alcohol have caused for you and to investigate ways to cope with pressure and have a happier and more productive lifestyle. We’re also able to offer assistance in dealing with family problems, issues around involvement in crime and mental health concerns. There is also a detox facility attached to PALM for any people who need to withdraw from the physical effects of drugs before they start the program.
It’s not all hard work at PALM. We have a structured program of recreational and fitness activities that includes trips to the movies, gym, bushwalking, bike riding, ice skating and so on. All residents are involved in making decisions about what activities will be on the program each week.

As part of the service we offer young people up to five years of further care once they have left PALM. Our Continuing Adolescent Life Management (CALM) program will keep in touch with you either through face-to-face meetings or by facebook and will provide ongoing support in dealing with any problems that you’re having. As well as helping you to avoid relapsing in to drug use, we’re able to assist you in looking for a job, going back to school or other education, finding accommodation and reconnecting with your family.
We have also opened up a 5 bedroom home for young people who have left PALM and need support to maintain a safe and affordable tenancy during their continued recovery. These young people are supported through CALM, our mentoring program, Take Hold and through our outreach support service, The Street University.

To enquire about coming to PALM, you can call us yourself or a parent or health worker can call on your behalf.

For more information on Ted Noffs Foundation programs, visit

Mark Ferry, Director

Mark first started working for the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse doing street work and progressed through a variety of youth work roles working with homeless and disadvantaged young people.  For a time, Mark worked in several large housing organisations, secure facilities for young people and children’s homes.  He worked with young people and adults with alcohol and other drug issues, including running a twenty-five bed unit within a large men’s hostel.

Mark has worked for the Ted Noffs Foundation since 2001, commencing as Assistant Manager, and has had various roles including managing a number of Therapeutic Communities, Program Manager and now as Chief Operating Officer with responsibilities over all TNF facilities.


St Marks AOD Residential Treatment Centre

Untitled-1“The Family that Changes”

St Marks aims to address problematic alcohol and other drug use and ‘at
risk’ behaviours by providing a family-like environment for clients to
gain life skills, to achieve personal growth by promoting a healthy body,
mind and spirit while encouraging social relationships and


Phone: +64 3 578 0459
Fax: +64 3 578 0406

61 & 63 Main Street
Blenheim 7201, Marlborough, New Zealand
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: 

Canterbury Community Trust
Kono Beverages Ltd.
Blenheim South Rotary
Community Organisation Grant Scheme
Pub Charity
Kaufman Trust

Good News: Wayne’s Story – Graduate of St Marks Programme 2014
(Wayne returned to speak at our annual fundraising dinner-attended by 300 supporters)

Hi, it’s great to be back in Blenheim amongst you all. Blenheim will always hold a special place in my heart, it was here that I was given an opportunity to save my life.

I was here over last summer for 5 months and what a summer it was. Sunshine every day which was great for the soul.

I loved being part of the Blenheim community. I got to experience some wonderful places in the region like swimming in the Wairau River, trips up to local forest areas, collecting shellfish at Whites Bay and many others.

The people up here are very cool. Everyone I met gave me a wonderful sense of belonging. I got chatting with this joker I met in town one day and I happened to ask him what he did for a living…..”Oh, I’m the Mayor” was his reply.

When I arrived at St Marks I was a very broken man. I’d been in recovery for about 4 months but was just hanging on by the fingertips during this time. Just before I came I’d had a small relapse and thought I’d blown my change of getting the help I needed.

I was scared, paranoid and alone, full of self-loathing and doubt.

For the previous 30 years I’d been running away from my emotions and fears by medicating myself with alcohol and drugs on a mostly daily basis. I’m now 46. In that 30 years I don’t think I would have put 3 days in a row together without getting hammered one way or another.

I came to realise that it had been a frightened little boy running the show.

Having finally been given the opportunity to reflect on my upbringing, I can now see that I was set up for failure.

I grew up in West Auckland with teenage parents who were both heavy drinkers and drug users. I can best compare my early home life as a cross between “Outrageous Fortune” and “Once Were Warriors”. Most of my childhood memories revolved around constant parties, people fighting and my parents fighting.

It was pretty usual to see either my father or my mother with a black eye or bloodied lip. My older sister and I looked out for each other because no one else seemed to.

When I was eleven I came home from school one day and found my sister dead on her bed, she had had a heart attack. This event certainly didn’t have any effect on slowing my folks down until when I was twelve my father took his own life.

So at this point it was just me and mum left. She continued to carry on her hard out partying lifestyle with me in tow. I was dragged around places I shouldn’t have been in and saw sights that a teenage boy shouldn’t see.

Around this time I started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana regularly.

My mum met her future husband and the day I turned 15 they told me it was time to “go forth and live your life son”, and they skipped town.

So at 15 and 1 week I was working fulltime and flatting with others. This is when my substance abuse became a daily habit.

One good thing to come out of my childhood was my involvement in playing rugby league. I started when I was four and finished in my early 30’s. Because I showed some ability at this sport, this was an area where people took notice of me and I got looked after. This is where I had some positive role models and got to learn about boundaries, discipline and leadership.

For the next 30 years I stumbled through life and it’s mostly been ok. I’ve had some very good and well-paying jobs in Sales and Marketing roles. I got married at 23, moved to Christchurch, split at 29, have two beautiful children who I have brought up in a shared custody capacity, travelled a lot through work and sport and partied as hard as I could.

The problem was I’d stopped growing up emotionally very early on. I’ve been pretty skilled at putting on a good front but behind the mask was a very tortured soul, bankrupt of any spirituality or sense of fitting in.

Around June last year my life had hit rock bottom. I was barely functioning as an employee, I’d lost control of my finances, I had no friends or support, my physical and mental health was very poor and I truly believed I was going insane and would soon be locked away.

In this insanity I found a moment of clarity and for the first time in my life I asked for help.

This was the start of my journey into recovery which took me into institutions such as detox at Thorpe House, supported residence at Elm Tree Lodge, AA and NA fellowships and finally St Marks.

What a gift St Marks has been for me and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to find myself. How many other people get the change to take 5 months out from their daily lives to spend just working on themselves? An amazing gift that is.

Being an addict I was an incredibly self-centred person who thought the world revolved around me, then to be thrown in with 13 others who thought the same way was the hardest thing I have ever done.

St Marks takes a therapeutic community approach to recovery which basically means “my recovery is your recovery”. So we were a group of very sick people expected to learn from each other.

I hated it! And for the first two months I started each day with the decision, can I handle this pain or shall I run away like I always do.

I soon came to realise that this is all part of the process. I began to learn that taking on other people’s crap makes me sick, I was given tools that made me start to believe in myself and through therapy addressed and got rid of all that anger and fear that I had been carrying inside.

The staff at St Marks are truly amazing people. They gave me love and understanding and showed me that I am a worthwhile special person, not the waste of space I always believed I was.

Paul Hathaway could read me like a book and always seemed to have the right advice for me at the right time. I’m so grateful that he was my main support person and it showed me that men helping men is incredibly powerful and that has inspired me to go down the career path I am now pursuing. Gina, Sandie, Ginny and the other ladies gave me so much love and caring that I so needed at that time and Lois, once I bought into the programme, taught me that if I can trust her and her staff I will make the changes needed to have a wonderful life.

Not everyone finishes the programme at St Marks but even if you spent just one week there it can only have a positive effect on your life. Oh and the food must have been pretty good, I put on 10 kilo’s.

Because I choose to not put mind altering substances into my body my life is so different now.

First and foremost I believe in myself. I trust others and I just don’t let anything bother me. I’ve found a Higher Power who allows me to hand over my crap so I don’t have to carry it around with me.

I have a cool home again where my children live with me part of the time and in contrast to a year ago I have lots of wonderful people in my life who love me because I’ve learnt how to let them love me.

I’m studying fulltime for a Diploma in Mental Health at Polytech and in the future I’d like to get a degree in nursing.

Alongside study I work 20 hours a week as a Mental Health Support Worker which gives me the opportunity to help others and that in turn continues my growth as a person. I’m the dude now responsible for handing out the drugs to residents. Who would’ve thought!

I’m truly honoured to have been asked to make this speech and share some of my story on behalf of the other people to have gone through St Marks over the last year.

Life keeps getting better every day. I’m a little uncomfortable to be held up as a St Marks success story. Yes, today I am, and for that I am truly grateful and proud, but tomorrow will be here soon so I have to do the recovery work all over again. I can only try my best in this life – one day at a time.

Good News: Aimee’s Story – Graduate of St Marks Programme 2015

My Name is Aimee-jayne Talbot I am 33 years old and was born in Timaru.
For the past 12 years I have lived in Australia and worked as a Hospitality Manager, Trainer and Functions Manager. I have always drunk alcohol socially and never thought it to be a problem as everyone was doing the same, if not more and using drugs. It really didn’t interfere with my work or family and socially for years until I found my best friend who had taken his life at our apartment in March 2014, I found him at 4.40 am in the morning with a belt around his neck and it destroyed me. I drank away the pain and shock of what I had seen. I guess you could say that things started to really spiral out of control since this time.

It wasn’t until May of 2014 that I decided to move back to NZ to heal. But I didn’t heal I drank even more; in the mornings in the afternoons anytime I could get my hands on alcohol I drank. My relationship with my parents was really starting to suffer and I still didn’t think that I had a problem it was everyone else that had the problem.
I was aggressive, anxious, paranoid, miserable and I had very low self esteem issues, it wasn’t until I got drunk and drove a car and got pulled over by the police,( I didn’t remember this) that I knew at the bottom of my heart that I had a very serious issue with alcohol abuse. I sort help through an A&D counsellor in Timaru who asked me what I wanted to do, I replied I want to go to rehab and that was exactly where I went.

I have completed a 16-week programme at St Marks and Graduated on February the 19th with my Dad present. The support I have received from St Marks has been amazing, I have worked through issues that have impacted my life for a long time. My relationships are mended and I have been able to work through my grief, my self loathing, my anxiety, learning how to slow down and basically put myself back together again, so I can live a full happy life, I have never felt so good, my St Marks journey has been a ‘life changing’ experience for me and I am grateful for this opportunity as I now have so much hope, passion and drive for my future. I can achieve whatever I set out to do and feel supported in this. I can do anything in the world – I just can’t drink.

My counsellor spent time with me, I learned so much from these sessions and these lessons I will take with me forever, I’ve met some amazing people who I shared the journey with and it is something I will never forget. I consider myself very fortunate as addiction can ‘grab a hold of you’ and pull you into the worst places and I am lucky enough to be nearly 5 months sober and no looking back as I have laid the foundations for a healthy and happy recovery lifestyle.
Feb 2015

Jen-one year update
Jen’s moving speech, given at the Charity Dinner in 2013 was well received. In March 2014 Jen issued a “One Year Sober Birthday Newsletter” which she shared with us where she pays tributes to St Marks:

“where do I start?”- Thank you seems too insignificant. Thank you for taking me on one of the hardest journeys I have ever walked, for challenging me, for loving me but mostly for believing in me. Believing I could go from someone who was just surviving, not living, into a functioning and happy human being who is starting to give a little back.
Thank you also for your after care, your constant inspiration and a continued feel of belonging”
In her newsletter she tells of starting to put in a garden, enjoying feeling stable and being able to cope with “life’s ups and downs”, gaining the love and trust of her children, having a full driver’s license, owning a car, renting a lovely large home, a job that she loves and a wedding proposal from her loving, supportive partner.

Most of all, she says she is looking forward to staying sober.

Footnote: Jen has just celebrated her 2 yrs sober birthday with another thank you message to St Marks

Contact / About ATCA


ATCA’s Executive Officer and Board
The Association
Role of TCs
Harm Minimisation
2015 ATCA Constitution
Organisational Development
Special Programs
Ethics and the ATCA Standard
Intrepretive Guides to the ATCA Standard
TC Training Course
ATCA’s Executive Officer and Board of Directors
click on the photos below to view Board Members’ biographies
    Lynne Magor-Blatch, Executive Officer
    Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch, MAPS, FCFP, FCCLP PhD, M.Clin.Psych; M.Psych (Forensic); B.A. (Hum & Soc.Sci); Grad. Dip. Applied Psych.; Cert IV TAA. Honorary Principal Fellow, School of Psychology University of Wollongong Lynne commenced her training in TCs in the United Kingdom in 1974, working at both Alpha House in Portsmouth and the Ley Community in Oxford.
    Garth Popple, Chair
    Garth Popple is Executive Director, WHOS (We Help Ourselves) and currently holds the following honorary positions: Chair and Director of the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA); Treasurer, Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NSW (NADA) ; Garth has been working in A&OD management roles since 1986 and in honorary committee and board positions since
    Carol Daws, Deputy Chair
    Carol Daws has been working in Non-Government AOD sector since 1988. Carol has worked at Cyrenian House in a variety of roles from clinical work through to management and is currently the CEO of Cyrenian House. Cyrenian House operates two Therapeutic Communities (TC) the Rick Hammersley Therapeutic Community (RHTC) in a semi-rural setting in the outer northern suburbs of the Perth Metropolitan area and the other, Serenity Lodge in Rockingham. Within the RHTC it also offers the Saranna Women’s Program to support women with dependent children. Cyrenian House also offers a comprehensive non-residential service that includes outpatient counselling services, prison programs and aftercare for people with drug and alcohol use and associated problems.
    Gerard Byrne, Treasurer
    Gerard has spent the past 25 years working in the AOD field; and is currently the Clinical Director for The Salvation Army Recovery Services, which covers NSW, Qld and the ACT. He holds Board positions on NADA, Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies (QNADA), Alcohol Tobacco Other Drugs Association ACT (ATODA), and has been the Treasurer of ATCA for the past 6 years.
    Eric Allan, Secretary & Public Officer
    Eric is Executive Manager of Residential Programs Odyssey House Victoria, and a member of the International Advisory Panel for the International Journal for Therapeutic Communities. He has been a Director of the ATCA Board since 2000 and past President 2002/2004. Eric is the treasurer of Visionary images, a community group dedicated to providing real collaborative opportunities between young people, artists, and government a past board member of Reclink Victoria, a not-for-profit charitable organisation dedicated to advocating for and improving access to sporting and recreational opportunities for disadvantaged people and the benefits which flow from this, such as community connectedness and improved health and well being.
    Bernice Smith, Director
    Bernice is CoCEO at Goldbridge Rehabilitation Services on the Gold Coast in Queensland.  Bernice was Service Manager at Goldbridge for 5 years from 2010 - 2015 before heading to Toowoomba to become Executive Director of Sunrise Way TC for six months.  Bernice was previously elected as an ATCA Board member, however stepped down when she left Goldbridge and went to Sunrise Way.
    Scott Wilson, Director
    Scott is the Director of Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council, (ADAC). He is an Aboriginal man from the Stolen Generation.  Scott has a background of polydrug use, which brought him into contact with both law enforcement and health agencies during his youth.
    Carole Taylor, Director
    Carole has a great deal of knowledge of that sector as she commenced her time in the NT working solely in remote areas, something she continued to expand as the CEO of CRANAplus. Her son and husband are both Aboriginal and from unrelated regions, with her son deriving his roots from the Arrente people of Central Australia. Carole has, for the past seven years, been a very strong representative on a number of round tables and expert advisory groups representing remote Australia, and feels that such a representation would benefit ATCA. For example, around 95% of DASA clients are Aboriginal and whilst they too benefit from the TC model, Carole believes we could do a little better in catering for the needs of such a group and maximise the impact even more than we currently do. She also has a passion for Governance and ensuring that organisations are transparent and relevant.
    Mark Ferry, Director
    Mark is the Chief Operating Officer with the Ted Noffs Foundation, which provides services for young people in New South Wales and the ACT. He has worked in the alcohol and other drug field for the past 25 years, including working in Therapeutic Communities for the past 15 years. In all this time the vast majority of his work has been with young people, and in the TC context, with young people aged 13-18. Young people form a large part of the people we work with in the AOD sector, yet their voice is not always heard. ATCA has recognised this through their work on the ATCA standards for adolescent TCs and Mark is keen to represent the views and issues of young people, the TCs they are a part of and contribute to the wider issues facing ATCA today.
    Jenny Boyle, General Manager of Operations, Odyssey House Trust, New Zealand Jenny Boyle, Director
    Jenny originally trained as a registered nurse and has 25+ years’ clinical and management experience within the Addiction and Mental Health Sector in New Zealand. Jenny has worked in a variety of settings within both NGO and Government agencies. Jenny is passionate about providing effective evidence-based services for people living with mental health and addiction

The Association

Our 44-member agencies provide more than 70 Therapeutic Communities (TCs) and associated services across Australia and New Zealand. These TCs vary in size from 10 to 150 beds, with their residential program length from short to medium to long term. Therapeutic Communities also vary in their program structure and content, some based on a 12 Step Model philosophy, others on a family therapy model or cognitive behavioural interventions, and others with a combination of some or all of the above.

However, all TCs have one important factor in common – they are underpinned by the concept of ‘Community-as-Method’ in which the community itself is seen as the main vehicle for treatment and change. The TC model has proven to be a powerful treatment approach for substance use and its related problems in living (DeLeon, 2000; Magor-Blatch, Bhullar, Thomson & Thorsteinsson, 2014; Vanderplasschen, 2012).  All TCs take an approach that treats the whole person through the use of peer community, supported by a variety of evidence-based services and interventions related to family, education, vocational training, physical and mental health.

Members of ATCA are diverse in terms of the range of programs offered, to meet the particular needs of the client group. In general, programs aim to have enough structure to ensure a degree of order, security and clarity, while allowing room for residents to learn, make mistakes and learn from experience.  Therefore, some adopt a more traditional hierarchical model, with graded levels of responsibility within the resident structure, while smaller programs often adopt a ‘flatter’ structure – known within the literature as a ‘democratic’ model.

The desire to continually improve the service offered has led members to consult the research literature, to seek forums for exchange and to encourage client involvement and feedback on all aspects of service delivery. It has also led services to consider means of matching clients to services and to developing new initiatives. For example, brief intervention programs of 4 – 6 weeks are available, acting as ‘transition’ programs to support the client into a longer term residential TC if needed, or back into the community with the development of appropriate continuing care services.  Some programs offer services to clients on opioid substitution therapies, some offer residential withdrawal management services and groups requiring specialist approaches, such as women and families with children, people with co-morbid mental health conditions, young people and victims of physical/sexual abuse. Day therapeutic communities have also been developed by a number of our member agencies. 

It must be emphasised that whilst TCs maintain an environment free from illicit drugs and alcohol, this does not mean a rejection of medically prescribed substances. Residents may require psychotropic medication and all agencies have appropriate medical, psychological and psychiatric support. The use of methadone and other pharmacotherapies is supported by a number of TCs, either as a reduction and withdrawal regime, or as stabilisation and maintenance. Other programs offer a range of naturopathic therapies.

Our member agencies are cognisant of the public health risks of transmission of HIV and in particular of Hepatitis C (HCV) and the need to include safe sex, safe needle use and health education messages to clients.

Therapeutic Communities provide treatment which fit within the harm minimisation continuum, providing an opportunity for each person to make an individual treatment choice, based on their previous experience and attempts at treatment.

Role of TCs

Many residents entering a TC have previously attempted other treatment pathways – including detoxification, outpatient counselling, pharmacotherapies and other residential services. Many clients will enter a TC a number of times, sometimes succeeding, but relapsing at a later time. Others will respond to treatment at the first attempt. TCs tend to treat those with entrenched and more self-destructive dependence patterns and for whom the prognosis of recovery by less intensive methods may not be as good. It is important to understand that ‘one size does not fit all’ and therefore it is important that clients are offered a range of treatment options.

For many, the TC is an alternative to lengthy imprisonment. This is a positive option for both the individual and society, as the TC provides both a cost-effective option to prison and the opportunity for help and rehabilitation. TCs offer the possibility for complete lifestyle change, and treatment frequently leads to the individual becoming a contributing member of society.

TC treatment costs need to be examined in the context of alternative treatment costs – hospitalisation, imprisonment, the cost to the community, the cost of correctional services and justice interventions. The cost of substance use includes:

  • Direct costs – medical care and expenditure, its sequelae and non medical expenditure i.e. prison, law enforcement;
  • Indirect costs – loss of earnings due to death, imprisonment reduced human capital; and
  • Psychosocial costs – reduction in quality of life (Pitts, 2009).

It is estimated that for every $1 spent on treatment, there is a savings of $7 through reduced health, welfare and justice system costs. Most importantly, the person is provided with an opportunity of treatment, and the chance to change their life.

Almost all TCs are non-government agencies and in part reliant on non-government funding. Any cost/benefit analysis should recognise that TCs are one of the few areas of alcohol and other drug treatment where, to a degree, the ‘user pays’ principle has been implemented. Clients contribute their labour to reduce costs (as well as the therapeutic value of work they contribute).

Quantification of individual suffering and despair is difficult, equally so is the value of returning that individual to a fulfilling and productive place in our society. The wholistic approach offered by TCs leads to significant improvement in many areas of individual functioning. Success is also difficult to quantify – abstinence or reduction in drug consumption, shift from illegal to legal drug use, adoption of safe usage practices, improved work performance, reduced criminal activity, improved interpersonal relationships, increased self-esteem are all legitimate areas of success and all areas targeted by TC programs as part of a harm minimisation approach.

Harm Minimisation

Harm minimisation is an approach that helps to focus assessment on the range of factors that are contributing to the harms associated with a person substance use (and not just on the alcohol and other drug use alone).  It then enables us to design interventions to prevent or reduce those harms directly not just by trying to reduce or eliminate AOD use. Harm minimisation has three pillars which are:  Harm Reduction, Demand Reduction, and Supply Reduction. Therapeutic Communities, whilst being primarily a tertiary level treatment within the pillar of Demand Reduction, incorporate many harm reduction initiatives into their day to day practice. These include: HIV education, distribution of split/safe kits, education of residents on relapse, the dangers of alcohol, and safer sex practices.

Organisational Development

TCs are dynamic organisations, evolving and responding to changes in the environment in which they operate, and to changes in client presentations. Agencies encourage continued development and training for their staff, and this is an area where increased government funds and support is necessary.  ATCA is grateful in this regard for the financial support of the Australian Government since 2006, which has enabled the establishment of the ATCA Secretariat and the development of the ATCA Standard.  We are also grateful for the financial support from the New Zealand Government, which has enabled the development of the TC Training Course.  This was firstly developed under the guidance of Matua Raki for New Zealand TCs, and then adapted for Australian audiences in 2017.

TCs have always provided integration services, however, over the last few years there has been a greater emphasis on re-integration and continuing after-care programs. TCs provide a range of aftercare services, including half-way houses. Programs also foster links with self-help programs, and/or run programs for ex- residents.  As TCs have evolved to meet demand and increase their range of services, staffing within TCs has also changed. TCs now employ multidisciplinary teams, including AOD workers, psychologists, medical personnel, social workers, group therapists, vocational trainers, teachers, sports instructors, childcare workers and family support workers. Staffing structures in TCs includes within the range of qualified staff, members who have themselves also completed a TC program. Staff members who bring with them the experience of recovery provide strong role models for residents in treatment and hope in the recovery process.

Special Programs

Like other treatment options, most TCs attract a majority of male clients. ATCA member agencies in the various states have implemented a range of strategies to encourage greater female participation – separate women’s program, childcare, parenting programs. The rapid expansion of methadone programs across Australia has also led to the need for creative solutions to the problem of providing support to those who wish to reduce their use.  Many TCs are providing this avenue, offering treatment to clients on opioid substitution therapies (OST) who wish to reduce and withdraw, or to stabilise on their medication, within the supportive context of counselling and treatment.  We endorse Mattick & Hall’s call for TCs and methadone maintenance programs to work more collaboratively.

Ethics & the ATCA Standard

Providing services based on ethical practice within a quality framework, is of paramount importance to ATCA.  We have adopted a ‘Staff Code of Ethics’ and a ‘Client Bill of Rights’, which all members must now incorporate these in their programs. 

ATCA launched its own ‘Quality Assurance Peer Review’ system many years ago in order to maintain and improve treatment standards within the TC. The nature of the TC means that as part of their daily operation all agencies have in place client grievance procedures and structures which provide checks and balances to staff and which protect client’s rights and provide TCs with a model of ‘best practice in management and client protection and rights’. In September 2009, ATCA launched the National Standards for Therapeutic Communities (Alcohol and other Drug) and Therapeutic Communities Training Package. The project was seen as part of an overall development of national standards for alcohol and other drug agencies, and as such will fit within a National Framework.

Peer reviews commenced against the Standard in 2010.  Peer reviews were undertaken by a team trained by ATCA and comprising members who were qualified by both their time within and commitment towards the TC movement in Australia.  Work then commenced towards certifying the Standard with the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).  To make the Standard more applicable to residential rehabilitation services, and therefore a more useful tool to a wider audience, some alterations were made to the original work.  It was also decided to link this Standard to the ISO 9001 Management Standard to enable organisations to undertake a review against the TC Standard and ensure that all other elements of their business could be reviewed for certification purposes in the one process.  However, it also became apparent to the ATCA that not all member organisations wished or needed to undertake a full certification review.  Therefore, ATCA resolved to take those elements of the Standard that related directly to the Therapeutic Community model ‘Community as Method’, and to offer these as a stand-alone review process which could be undertaken to become a certified member of ATCA, and to provide a quality assurance tool that specifically maintains the integrity of the Therapeutic Community model.

ATCA’s objective in developing the ATCA Standard, was to ensure the integrity of the ‘Therapeutic Community’ principle is maintained and will continue to stand as a model of best practice in the treatment of substance misuse and co-occurring disorders.  The aims of this project were to:

  • Provide specialist service standards which identify and describe good TC practice which can be incorporated into a national quality framework.
  • Therapeutic Communities to engage in service evaluation and quality improvement using methods and values that reflect the TC philosophy.
  • Develop a common language which will facilitate effective relationships with all jurisdictions (federal, state and territory).
  • Provide a strong network of supportive relationships.
  • Promote best practice through shared learning and developing external links.
  • Build workforce capacity
  • Enable Therapy
  • Unity within the AOD and comorbidity sector.
  • Create an environment for sustaining the ‘career paths’ of trained AOD workers within the NGO sector, including the valued practice of workers with ‘lived’ experience of the field. Therapeutic communities particularly value the experience of staff who are graduates of programs, and seek to incorporate learned knowledge and experience into their professional practice.

The ATCA Standard has been designed in two tiers to make it applicable to both therapeutic communities and the wider residential rehabilitation services sector.

The first level of the Standard allows an organisation to gain certification against a set of indicators that are directly applicable to residential rehabilitation service for alcohol and other drug use.  For services considering a transition to the therapeutic community model, working with the ATCA Standard will assist in providing guidelines to the expectations of a service that is a therapeutic community.  To achieve certification as a residential rehabilitation service, agencies need to meet 80% of criteria numbers 1–6 labelled as ‘essential’. This represents the minimum level of activity required to demonstrate competency in agency practice in the residential rehabilitation setting. 

The second level of the Standard allows an organisation to seek certification as a therapeutic community.  To achieve certification as a Therapeutic Community, 80% of all criteria labelled as ‘essential’ must be achieved (criteria 1–13).  The essential criteria relate to what policies and procedures should be in place, and how agencies identify with the therapeutic community model. The service delivery needs of the target community and what management, staff and consumers of the agencies should know about the therapeutic community model and delivery are also encapsulated within the criterion.

For agencies that have participated in other quality certification programs, a further set of criterion, called ‘good practice criteria’ has been developed.  These criterion are intended to reflect what are sometimes referred to as ‘systems elements’ and are primarily related to monitoring and evaluation of agency practices.  Your agency will be awarded ‘good practice’ certification if, in addition to meeting all of the essential criteria, all of the ‘good practice’ criteria are met.

Interpretive Guides to the ATCA Standard

Tom date, three Interpretive Guides for AOD residential services have been developed by ATCA, and provide examples of the way in which the criteria contained in the ATCA Therapeutic Communities and Residential Rehabilitation Services Standard might be interpreted. These are for adult services, youth services and services working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.  ATCA is currently developing an Interpretive Guide for prison-based TCs and other Correctional populations.  Each of the guides provides examples of the way in which evidence for a particular indicator may be assessed – recognising that each of these service modalities have differences, but that at the base, the TC method is evident.

Therefore, the Interpretive Guides are not intended to be definitive guides, but rather, to provide a framework for reviewers and agencies to both prepare for and to review against the ATCA Therapeutic Communities and Residential Rehabilitation Services Standard. 

TC Training Course

The Therapeutic Community (TC) Training Course has been specifically written for Australian audiences and adapted from the Aotearoa New Zealand context developed by Matua Raki, and is aimed at supporting practitioners working in TCs and other AOD residential rehabilitation services (RRS) or those wanting to work in the TC environment.  It is offered in both Australia and New Zealand.

The training course has been developed to assist in expanding the potential ‘TC work-ready’ workforce pool. The key aim of the course is to support AOD practitioners, support workers and other relevant professionals and students to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills that can be applied in the TC context.

The course is suited to those who have a base qualification and/or knowledge of addiction-related practice and who wish to develop knowledge and skills for application in the RRS and TC context.

The TC training is a 17-week course, with each participant completing:

  • 48 hours of face-to-face learning facilitated by a
  • a 40-hour supervised professional skills practicum in a
  • 12 hours of self-directed
  • Online cultural competence training module.

Participants who complete all course requirements to a satisfactory standard are awarded a certificate of completion.

Course details

Outcomes: Course participants will develop an understanding of TC theory, principles and key concepts and will demonstrate ability to effectively apply this understanding. There is an expectation that those completing the course will have developed an appropriate foundation to support their employment in a TC.


The agencies which ATCA represent all endorse both the value of independent research and the need for increased research to assist us in continually improving the quality of our services. The ATCA website provides papers and presentations from past conferences and links to other websites which include research studies in therapeutic community treatment.



De Leon G. (2000). The Therapeutic Community: Theory, Model, and Method. New York, Springer Publishing Company.

Magor-Blatch, L., Bhullar, N., Thomson, B. & Thorsteinsson, E. (2014). A systematic review of studies examining effectiveness of therapeutic communities. Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal for Therapeutic Communities, 35 (4), 168-184.

Vanderplasschen, W., Colpaert, K., Autrique, M., Rapp, R.C., Pearce, S.,  Broekaert, E., & Vandevelde, S. (2012). Therapeutic Communities for Addictions: A Review of Their Effectiveness from a Recovery-Oriented Perspective. The Scientific World Journal,


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ATCA Submissions and Responses:

ATCA response to evaluation National Drug Strategy

ATCA response to evaluation NGOTGP




Peak Bodies


Professional Development

International Associations


Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education

FARE is an independent charitable organisation working to prevent the harmful use of alcohol in Australia.

FARE’s mission is to help Australia change the way it drinks by:

  • helping communities to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms
  • building the case for alcohol policy reform
  • engaging Australians in conversations about our drinking culture

FARE is guided by the World Health Organisation’s global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol for tackling alcohol-related harms through population-based strategies, problem directed policies, and direct interventions.

Peak Bodies


The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania is the peak body for the non-government, not-for-profit alcohol and other drugs sector in Tasmania.



The Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies Inc (NADA) is the peak organisation for the alcohol and drug non-government sector throughout NSW and is funded by NSW Health.



The South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services is the Peak Body for Non-Government Organizations working in the alcohol and other drug field in South Australia.



The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association is the peak body representing Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services in Victoria.

The Western Australian Network of Alcohol And Other Drug Agencies is the
peak body for the alcohol and other drug (AOD) education, prevention, treatment and support sector in Western Australia.
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre was established at the University of New South Wales in May, 1986. It is funded by the Australian Government as part of the National Drug Strategy.
Turning Point
Since being established in 1994, Turning Point has led research and its translation into policy and practice at a local, national and international level.
The Register of Australian Drug & Alcohol Research is a project of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia. It contains up-to-date records of current and recently completed (from 2001) research projects with details of published research. There is also information about researchers, research organizations and funding bodies.
Professional Development
NCETA is a national research centre concerned with workforce development in the alcohol and other drugs related field.
International TC Associations
Association of Therapeutic Communities, (UK)
Therapeutic Communities of America,Inc.
European Federation Of Therapeutic Communities
Federation of TCs of Central & Eastern Europe
Asian Federation of Therapeutic Communities

Directions Health Services




Phone: (Directions head office in the ACT)
02 6132 4800 Fax: 02 6132 4801
Email: [email protected]

Directions Health Services is a not for profit organisation established in 1973 which provides a range of services to individuals, families, carers and friends impacted by alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use in the ACT and NSW.
Client focused and evidence based programs are delivered in accordance with harm minimisation principles. We offer a range of health interventions designed to reduce or limit harms and improve personal and community health. Directions achieve this through the provision of information, awareness sessions, counselling, case management, specific psychological therapies, support groups, referral, harm reduction activities, primary health care, withdrawal and rehabilitation services.

Treatment & Support Service (ACT): Provides free community based counselling and case management services for individuals, their families, carers and friends affected by ATOD issues. Support and counselling is also provided to people who are waiting for admission or have recently completed a withdrawal or rehabilitation program and are looking for strategies to prevent relapse, set goals, and manage ongoing mental health issues. Family support and counselling is available for people experiencing issues associated with a family member’s or friend’s ATOD use. This may include information on how to support the person concerned, safety planning, de-escalation strategies, and self-care. A walk-in service is available for people who are in crisis or would like an urgent assessment or have more immediate needs. A range of self-help and therapeutic support groups are also available. Outreach is provided to headspace, community health, housing estates and Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Althea Wellness Centre (ACT): Provides multidisciplinary and person centred primary care for individuals and their families who experience issues with ATOD. Access to nursing, medical and psychological services are available. Screening and treatment for Hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses, vaccinations, sexual health services, treatment for acute and chronic illnesses, pre and post natal care, referral to the dental program and other medical specialities are provided. Psychological testing and a range of psychological therapies are also available.

Arcadia House (ACT): Offers non-medicated 1 – 2 week withdrawal program, selective 12 week day program and 12 week residential rehabilitation program, consisting of 8 weeks residential followed by 4 weeks day program. Arcadia House skills based programs are based on Therapeutic Community Principles.

Needle and Syringe Program (ACT): is a public health measure, consistent with ACT Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Strategy and the National Drug Strategy’s harm minimisation framework, to reduce the spread of infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs. The program provides a range of services that includes provision of a comprehensive range of clean injecting equipment, education on harm minimisation practices, health information, free nutritious food and nurse led health assessments. Free equipment is available from primary outlets located in Civic and Phillip and community health centres and can be purchased from participating pharmacies.

Pathways Programs (NSW): a range of ATOD programs have been established, or are in the process of being established in regional NSW, including in Goulburn, Murrumbidgee, Eurobodalla and Monaro regions. Services are primarily case management and early intervention services for people from a variety of population groups, including young people and adults impacted by methamphetamine use (delivered in partnership with Ted Noffs) in Murrumbidgee and Goulburn regions; pre and post support for people accessing residential and day rehabilitation, outreach services to headspace Griffith, and integrated services for young Aboriginal people seeking employment or education pursuits in the Murrumbidgee; and general ATOD case management services for individuals and families in the Eurobodalla and Monaro regions.

For more information about Directions visit