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Celebrating the women of the LDAT program

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. 

This year, we shine the spotlight on just a handful of the many women doing amazing work in Local Drug Action Teams across Australia.

Selba Gondoza Luka - Afri-Connect LDAT, Vic

Malawian-born Selba Gondoza Luka is a Mental Health Clinician specialising in at-risk young people within the African and CALD communities. She also works closely with ‘the mamas’ - African women who are new to Australia and need assistance to find employment and learn English.

Inspired by her own experiences of domestic abuse and the long process of repairing a fractured relationship with her own daughter, Selba founded Afri-Aus Care in 2015. The not-for-profit provides mental health support, outreach and skills development.

“She is an amazing woman, who was just awarded Citizen of the Year 2021 by the City of Greater Dandenong for the work she has done for her community through Afri-Aus Care. This was especially true during 2020,” said Elissa Wray, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

Read about Selba in The Age.

Afri-Connect LDAT is auspiced by Afri-Aus Care in partnership with Greater Dandenong Council, Taskforce, Monash Health, the Salvation Army and Victoria Police.

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Nadine Webster - Ipswich LDAT, QLD

Nadine works for Queensland Police and is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Ipswich region.

“She’s passionate about educating young people on alcohol and other drugs,” said Rachel Acton, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

Nadine is also committed to breaking down the barriers between police and young locals. Too many times has she seen young people afraid to approach police because of fear of consequences. Nadine has worked to build trust and created a strong reputation for herself in the Ipswich community as a friendly face any young person can turn to if they are in trouble.

LDAT partners include EACH, Queensland Police Service and Drug ARM.

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Sophie Bourchier – Substance Misuse Limestone Coast LDAT, SA

Since Sophie’s introduction to the Local Drug Action Team program as the lead of Substance Misuse Limestone Coast LDAT in 2017, she has been a true advocate for the program.

Sophie is passionate about preventing alcohol and other drug harms, particularly for young people in the Limestone Coast region. She has been integral in driving the delivery of the Planet Youth prevention model implementation since 2019.

She was one of the first to advocate for the Climate Schools education modules and have it run in schools in Mount Gambier through a peer-to-peer learning method for Year 9s and 10s.

“Sophie is a powerhouse. I can personally say she is an inspiration,” said Liana Bellifemini, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

The LDAT partners involved in the Planet Youth pilot are the City of Mount Gambier, District Council of Grant, and Sport and Recreation – Limestone Coast Local Government Association.

Read the Case Study on this LDAT.

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Dawt Tha Sung Thang Eng – Chin Community Western Partnerships LDAT, Vic

Dawt Tha, a Bi-Cultural Worker at cohealth, has now helped her LDAT deliver two Community Action Plans and played an important role in connecting her Chin community with the LDAT program. She has also recently completed her nursing degree.

“Dawt Tha has proven herself to be an inspirational young woman and leader within the West Melbourne community,” said Janelle Gibson, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

The LDAT began by engaging young people in sport. More recently the team has worked with the Australian Chin community to deliver online workshops focusing on alcohol and other drugs, family relationships, mental health and spiritual support in the context of COVID-19.

cohealth Footscray is lead organisation for this LDAT, with partners Western Melbourne Chin Network, Chin Broadcasting Network, Brimbank Learning Future, Brimbank Council, MiCare.

Read more about this LDAT’s activities in 2020.

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Zona Hussey-Smith - Eidsvold SAFE LDAT, QLD

Zona’s work centres on creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop activities which empower their people through traditional platforms. Her achievements in multiple Indigenous communities is beyond extraordinary. Programs she has initiated have become legacies that still continue today.

Zona is an advocate for upskilling local Indigenous people to create social enterprises, which benefit the whole community. She is talented at attracting funders to invest in local communities, with majority of this interest received from State and Federal Governments and high profile not-for-profits.

“This woman is a superhero!” explains Rachel Acton, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

Partners in the project include Stepping Black Indigenous Corporation, North Burnett Regional Council, Bridges Health and Community Care, North Burnett Community Services.

Read the Case Study on SAFE in Eidsvold.

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Terri Hately - Rochester, Elmore and Lockington LDAT, Vic

Terri has a crucial role in bringing her community together. She is the primary driver of the Life Skills in Lockington project. During COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and following the closure of the Neighbourhood House, Terri went above and beyond to connect with young people and parents in the region to help them feel connected.

“Terri is a ‘go getter’ and we have many spirited conversations about her plans to provide further opportunities for Lockington’s young people. Terri is one of those strong women living in regional Victoria and I think she is brilliant,” said Janelle Gibson, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

The Skills in Lockington project supports young people aged 12-18 within the Lockington community to build everyday life skills such as self- confidence, self-awareness, resilience and coping mechanisms to assist them to successfully transition from adolescence into adulthood.

LDAT partners include Lockington Neighbourhood House, Giddings & Co, Ciurleo’s Ice Cream and Waffle House, Market Street Garage, Rochester and Elmore District Health Services, Thrive Wellness & Consulting, Echuca Police, Bendigo Bank, Do Food Safely, Rich River First Aid, Nacole Horneman – Chef and Lockington Living Heritage Centre.

Read the Case Study on this LDAT.

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Lisa Neville – Communities that Care Alpine LDAT, Vic

Lisa is the primary contact for this LDAT and a driving force behind the project. Lisa is a Health Promotion Officer at Alpine Health and works tirelessly and passionately for her community.

“Lisa is one of the fabulous, strong women who are making a huge impact within the LDAT program and their communities,” said Janelle Gibson, Senior Community Development Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

The local Myrtleford Alpine Saints Football Netball Club identified they wanted to become more than just a place to train. They wanted to be a club who nurtures – players, coaches, supporters, volunteers and community. Alpine Health was already part of an established LDAT. The club approached Lisa to support their endeavours to develop the wellbeing team.

The Wellbeing Group aims to cultivate a culture that reduces stigma and promotes talking about mental health and wellbeing to encourage and normalise help seeking behaviours.

The LDAT partners involved are Alpine Health, Myrtleford Alpine Saints FNC and Myrtleford P-12 College.

Find out more about the Wellbeing Team.

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