Reflections on capacity‐building initiatives in an Australian state

Bridget Roberts (Department of Rural and Indigenous Health, Monash University, Moe, Australia)
Darryl Maybery (Department of Rural and Indigenous Health, Monash University, Moe, Australia)
Rebecca Jones (School of History & Centre for Environmental History, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Publication date: 15 February 2013



The integration of health or social services is an enduring challenge and especially so in relation to people experiencing “dual diagnosis”, the co‐occurrence of mental health and substance use problems. The emergence of the “dual diagnosis” concept has highlighted the tension between specialist treatment for single problems and complex, individualised care. The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolving nature of dual diagnosis initiatives in an Australian state during recent decades.


Interpretive, case study analysis of policy documents and key informant interviews (19) illuminates the experience of dual diagnosis initiatives.


In the case of Victoria, dual diagnosis responsiveness has evolved slowly over the last 20 years, delayed by the inherent difficulty of practice change, a weak perception of need, interprofessional tensions and shortcomings in data collection, coordination and resources. Key enablers have been champions and leaders in policy, management and clinical practice, directive government policy and targeted funding. Achieving a wrap‐around service system entails investment in interpersonal relationship‐building and stigma reduction, as well as technical or structural changes.


The paper presents a unique and independent view of a 20‐year period and indicates progress in attitudinal change that merits wider acknowledgement and application to other settings throughout health and social care.



Roberts, B., Maybery, D. and Jones, R. (2013), "Reflections on capacity‐building initiatives in an Australian state", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 24-33.

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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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