INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Indigenous people seeking residential alcohol and other drug (AOD) rehabilitation in Victoria are most frequently referred to the Ngwala Willumbong Co-operative (Ngwala). This study aimed to describe socio-demographic changes in clients of Ngwala’s residential rehabilitation services between 2015 and 2016. DESIGN AND METHODS: Self-assessment surveys completed upon screening for rehabilitation between May 2015 and November 2016 (n = 117) were analysed for socio-demographic data, AOD use and mental health status. Ngwala’s monthly summary reports from January 2015 to December 2016 were analysed to compare primary drugs of concern, proportion of forensic clients assessed and admitted across 2015-2016. Independent t-tests and tests of two proportions were used to compare variables between years, with differences considered significant when P < 0.05. RESULTS: Clients were predominantly Indigenous (n = 100, 91%), male (n = 92, 71%) and unemployed (n = 106, 93%). Most clients (n = 92, 88%) were at high risk of serious mental illness (by Kessler Psychological Distress Scale). A significantly higher proportion of forensic clients were admitted in 2016 (n = 221, 60%) compared to 2015 (n = 158, 43%; P < 0.001; 95% confidence interval -0.24, -0.10). The mean monthly number of clients listing amphetamines as their primary drug of concern upon assessment was greater in 2016 (21 +/- 7.19 people) compared to 2015 (12 +/- 2.78 people; P = 0.01; 95% confidence interval 3.13, 15.37). DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest the proportion of Indigenous people in AOD treatment with amphetamine use problems or forensic involvement is increasing. These trends should be considered in service design and funding decisions.
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