Bunjilwarra - Koori Youth Alcohol and Drug Healing Service - Victoria | Just another WordPress site
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The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) and Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) are delighted to have the opportunity to harness the expertise and experience of both agencies to jointly provide the new Bunjilwarra Koori Youth Alcohol and Drug Healing Service in close partnership with the Victorian Government, VACCHO and ACCHOs.

Bunjilwarra is a 12 bed Alcohol and Other Drugs residential rehabilitation and healing service for Aboriginal young people (male and female) aged between 16 and 25 years. It is a purpose-built, statewide service situated on a 1.7 hectare site in Hastings, Victoria.

Local Support

VAHS and YSAS highly value the local support Bunjilwarra will have from the Dandenong & District Aboriginal Cooperative, Peninsula Health, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, headspace Frankston, Victoria Police and Chisholm TAFE, together with the local traditional owners, the Boonwurrung people.

An Experienced Team

VAHS and YSAS welcome VACCHO’s commitment to Bunjilwarra with CEO, Jill Gallagher, overseeing the partnership. VACCHO will chair the Bunjilwarra Cultural Integrity Committee, and Peninsula Health has kindly agreed to chair the Bunjilwarra Local Coordination & Risk Committee.   Bunjilwarra is staffed by a team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals with employment experience in alcohol and other drugs, mental health, residential rehabilitation and youth work.   This multi-disciplinary team is led by a Program Manager, with support from a Clinical Lead, Cultural Lead, Intake Assessment & Transition Worker and Care & Recovery Workers. The Bunjilwarra Office Manager, Property Maintenance Worker and Cook play pivotal roles in ensuring that the site is well operated and maintained.

Join the Bunjilwarra Team

We are now accepting applications for a Bunjilwarra Intake, Assessment and Community Transitions Worker with applications open until 9am on Monday, 30 October 2017.  We are also always accepting applications for casual Care and Recovery Workers.


Please download the relevant position descriptions (PD) and job advertisements in the links below and email your queries or applications to info@bunjilwarra.org.au or as directed on the position description.

The Bunjilwarra service model is firmly placed in context of the Aboriginal-defined notion of healing and in a cultural framework, supported by trauma-informed practice; adolescent developmental framework; therapeutic community and recovery frameworks.

Click the icon above to download our Fact Sheet about the unique Bunjilwarra Service Model.

On a day to day basis, Bunjilwarra is guided by the following 12 practice principles:

Healing and culture underpin all aspects of the service

Aboriginal community ownership, particularly cultural leadership and cultural integrity, are integral.

Address the underlying causes of alcohol and other drug misuse and of trauma.

Adopt the key features of the Aboriginal worldview – a holistic approach embedded in culture and inclusive of family and community, and connected to country.

Use a strengths-based approach.

Actively promote connection to community; create opportunity to build social and bridging capital.

Work at the intersection between western and traditional understandings of trauma and wellbeing.

Focus on safety and reliability – embed positive role modelling and adequate routine.

Incorporate a positive gendered approach – women’s and men’s business.

Acknowledge the transitional, identity-forming nature of adolescence and young adulthood and the importance of mastery and self-efficacy.

Respect each young person and the pace and nature of their healing journey.

Empower young people to evaluate and make choices, and to give back to the Bunjiwarra and wider community.


Bunjilwarra acknowledges that healing is a journey of return to physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing; one that will occur over an extended period of time far beyond the time a young person will spend at Bunjilwarra. The service also recognises that many Aboriginal young people will have a tenuous relationship with culture, that (re)connection to culture must be self-paced and that it requires diverse opportunities alongside and in the context of activities focused on education, employment, sport, art, recreation and wellbeing.

Bunjilwarra shares the Healing Foundation’s view that healing is a process that respectfully turns hurt from the past into something positive for individuals, for community and for future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Healing recognises the strengths of Aboriginal young people and the assets of Aboriginal culture and community including resilience in the face of extreme adversity, strong kinship systems and connection to spiritual traditions, ancestry, country and community.

The Bunjilwarra Journey

Young people who participate in the Bunjilwarra program will follow the steps below:


  1. Join– young people will be supported by workers and Elders in the community to go through the process of being assessed for suitability and preparation to enter Bunjilwarra.


  1. Check it out– a period of at least two weeks during which the young person is able to participate at Bunjilwarra as part of a personal assessment and commitment forming process.


  1. Work it out– a period of between eight and 13 weeks when the young person fully commits to participation in the Bunjilwarra program and to working on their own goals.


  1. Take a lead– this stage of approximately four to six weeks is when the young person chooses to extend work on their healing goals and to assume a peer leadership role at Bunjilwarra.


  1. Reconnect– young people will be supported by community based workers and Elders to implement their plans to live in their chosen community.

At any point the young person may decide that Bunjilwarra does not meet their current needs and leave in a positive relationship to the service.

Bunjilwarra Referral Information

If you are interested in referring a young person to Bunjilwarra, you will find information about the program and how to make a referral through this link. We have also included forms that we ask you to fill out as we require all available information on diagnosis, medications and case management which will form part of Bunjilwarra’s assessment process. This will assist us to offer appropriate support to a young person who is interested in the program.

Eligibility and Screening Criteria

To be eligible for acceptance to Bunjilwarra, a young person must:

  • Identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.
  • Be between 16 and 25 years of age.
  • Require treatment to manage their alcohol and/or drug problem.
  • Be prepared to enter the program voluntarily.

In addition, the young person must:

  • Demonstrate that they are ready to address their alcohol and other drug issues, including a willingness to participate in the development and achievement of personal goals.
  • Make a commitment to actively participate in all aspects of the program, in particular group based and one-on-one activities.
  • Be willing to participate and live in a therapeutic community environment.

Referral Process

  1. Fully complete and sign the Referral form (pages 6 to 12)
  2. Complete and sign the Consent to Release Information (page 13). Please note this is to be signed by the young person
  3. Complete and sign the Emergency Discharge Plan (page 14)
  4. Complete the Checklist (page 17)
  6. Once received, the referral is then considered at the Referral Meeting, which is held weekly
  7. The outcome and any other information that may be required will be communicated to the Referrer as soon as possible

Check it out.

Work it Out.

Take a Lead.