Delivering a diploma of community services (alcohol and other drugs and mental health) in the remote town of Katherine (NT): a case study

Xenia Girdler, Jocelyn Dhu, Anton Isaacs

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: To describe the design and implementation of a Diploma of Community Services in Katherine (NT) by RMIT University in collaboration with Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (SHS). Method: This is a descriptive case study of how, in response to a need, a city-based Diploma of Community Services (Alcohol and other Drugs and Mental Health) was modified and delivered in the remote region of Katherine in the Northern Territory. The key aspects included organisational agreements, understanding local needs and realities, collaborative development of course design, overcoming funding shortfalls, incorporating two-way learning, managing with sparse resources, and building a conducive learning environment. Results: Of the 24 students who completed the course in the first two iterations of the program, 91% received their Diploma. Workshops conducted as part of the course enabled students to develop cross-agency and cross-sector connections as well as professional collaborations. After graduation, a number of students successfully applied for higher paying positions within their own or alternative services whilst others decided to go onto further study. The program has since been delivered across the NT in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and the remote community of Ngukurr. Discussion: The lessons learnt from this endeavour could be utilised by other remote area health services and city based training organisations to design and deliver courses in remote areas of Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Indigenous workforce development
  • Remote education
  • Social and emotional well being
  • Vocational education

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