Partner Spotlight: Cherbourg Alcohol and Other Drugs Service

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170 km northwest of Brisbane, Cherbourg is home to nearly 1500 residents and Queensland’s third-largest Aboriginal community.

Located behind Cherbourg hospital sits Cherbourg Community Health – Alcohol and Other Drugs Service (Cherbourg AODS) which runs an extensive range of programs to support people wanting help with alcohol, tobacco or drug use.

Nurse Unit Manager Janette Goeman says the busy Cherbourg AODS service is unique in its ability to meet the community’s needs with a flexible approach.

“Our main service is providing one-on-one counselling, but we also work with families, run a monthly community engagement barbeque as well as delivering educational programs,” Janette said.

“We’ve tried to make engagement a priority so the community, especially young people, are familiar with who we are.”

Janette’s interest in hosting a World Hepatitis Day event was motivated by wanting to support people with blood-borne viruses.

“Encouraging people to engage with available treatments can help prevent longer-term health consequences,” she said.

“It’s like cigarette smoking. Because they don’t feel the immediate effects, they don’t worry about it.”

Janette wanted to provide an opportunity for the community to get better informed about viral hepatitis and talk to experts in the field.

Janette applied for funding through Hepatitis Queensland’s SWITCH Grants program to host a community barbeque, liver clinic and education sessions.

The team from Hepatitis Queensland jumped at the chance to support Janette’s vision and together with Dr Matt Ruhl and nurse Peta Deppeler from Kobi House, a sexual health service in Toowoomba, attended the event in person to support the Cherbourg AODs team.

Held on 30 July within the Cherbourg hospital grounds, the event gave the community a chance to check in with their liver, have a conversation with health staff and enjoy the barbeque.

Hepatitis Queensland’s Outreach Nurse Jeanette provided free liver scans using a mobile FibroScan machine that measures liver damage as well as fatty levels. Lana, one of Hepatitis Queensland’s experienced educators, was also on hand to share her knowledge and engage with the community.

With health literacy being a major barrier for many in the area, Janette was pleased people were able to talk directly to health professionals who were relatable and engaging.

“Dr Ruhl had a lovely manner and our clients found him really personable,” Janette said.

“One of our regular clients has already started hepatitis C treatment since the event.”

According to Janette, the workforce education session delivered by Dr Ruhl was invaluable for local health professionals, particularly for those without a background in liver disease.

“Our clinicians now have more confidence in talking about hepatitis and how the treatment process works,” Janette said.

“If we can get prescribing done from Cherbourg, it has the potential for positive long-term impact on community members.

“We’ve made some really good connections that will be positive moving forward. I now feel more confident to talk to Dr Ruhl and the team at Hepatitis Queensland for support.”

Interested in partnering with Hepatitis Queensland?

We are always on the lookout for services like Cherbourg Alcohol and Other Drugs Service to partner with. Our team would love to talk to you about how we can you and your clients. Contact 07 3846 0020 or info@hepqld.asn.au.

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