2016 Gathering


"come sit together"


21-23 November 2016 Rydges Hotel, Melbourne

ATCA 2016 Gathering "come sit together"

The Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) is made up of over 35 organisations from Australia and New Zealand offering Therapeutic Community and Residential Rehabilitation to adolescents, adults, and families. These Programs work with and achieve positive outcomes for some of the community’s most marginalised “priority populations” including Aboriginal and Torres Strait and Pacific Islanders.


This year’s conference will steer away from the traditional conference format to one of a gathering with the theme of “Come sit together” bringing together “mainstream” alcohol and other drug treatment and support programs and Aboriginal health organisations that work together to bring about positive outcomes for first nations clients, their children, their families, their mobs and the community.


The conference organising committee this year is made up of: Odyssey House Victoria, Windana, Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), the Salvation Army and for the very first time, Ngwala Willumbong Ltd. VACCHO has come on board to support the development of the conference as a genuine first people’s event hosted by what is referred to as a “mainstream” association.


We look forward to welcoming you to this year’s conference, and invite you to register by clicking on the "register now" button below



Registration Type



Full Registration (ATCA Member)

Full Registration (Non ATCA Member)

Day Registration (ATCA Member)

Day Registration (Non ATCA Member)

Conference Dinner & ATCA Award Presentation











Early bird

before 31.08








after 31.08







It is with regret that we inform delegates that Mr. Stan Grant is no longer available to attend the ATCA conference as arranged.


We are delighted, however, to announce that Professor Marcia Langton AM, PhD Macq U, BA (Hons) ANU, FASSA and Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies has kindly accepted our invitation and will speak on Tuesday 22 November.  This event will take place at the Rydges Hotel and Conference Centre at 11am. For those attending this event only, the cost will be $110, but is included in the registration fee for conference delegates.


Delivering the James A. Pitts Oration will be Mr John Challis, who is currently Vice President of Center Point in the US, an organisation providing a range of treatment services, including Therapeutic Communities in California, Oklahoma and Texas.  John was the CEO of Odyssey House Auckland from 1987-2004. The James A. Pitts Oration will take place on Wednesday 23 November at 9.30am.


  • Tom Regehr

    Tom Regehr is the Founder and Director of Come And Sit Together (CAST) Canada


    He’s been there on the front lines, drawn there through his darkest moments seeking a path to a better life after years of severe alcoholism and drug addiction led him to live with no shelter, no heat, no food and no meaningful relationships or companionship. Unaddressed childhood trauma and his inability to resolve the grief and pain that grew as a result led him through his continual descent, and it was the support of some key people and organisation that drew him back.


    The trauma and suffering of his earlier life isn’t the focus of what he does through CAST Canada, but it does inform his work and offers him a unique perspective. During his early recovery, he accessed several types of services, eager to find something that would offer him the clarity he needed. A 28-day, in-house detox program failed in almost every way possible, yet it offered him a safe place. For the first time in prolonged memory, he knew where he was going to sleep the next night.


    Tom ventured from there to the Credit Valley Drug and Alcohol Program which stands out in his mind as an example of a program ‘done right’. Counsellors and professionals held true respect for those they sought to help, and the programs were excellent.


    In 1999 Tom began to run the first CAST support groups and for five years, with his feet firmly planted on the ground, he watched people come into the sessions and make positive change in their life. They felt safe, they wanted to be there and they made progress that for most of them could not have been achieved through a twelve-step program. CAST evolved and a series of more than 100 panel discussions between front line professionals and people in active recovery sprung into being, and each of these discussions formed the basis of knowledge that continues to inform CAST Canada’s approach to education.


    Tom Regehr will present a keynote address at the 2016 conference, aptly named a ‘Gathering’ with the invitation to ‘come sit together’.  On Thursday 24 November, he will present a workshop: Tomorrow Does Not Exist: Working with people who have suffered enough loss that they feel that a positive tomorrow cannot exist.


  • Marcia Langton

    Professor Marcia Langton AM, PhD Macq U, BA (Hons) ANU, FASSA: Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies


    Professor Marcia Langton AM has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at The University of Melbourne since February 2000. Professor Langton has made a significant contribution to Australian Indigenous studies.



    Her primary research has concerned the engagement between Indigenous people and the mining and resource sector through the Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements research projects ( Her other research concerns Alcohol Management Plans in remote Australia, Indigenous relationships with place, land tenure and legal recognition in Australia. In 1993 she was made a member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her work in anthropology and the advocacy of Aboriginal rights. Professor Marcia Langton is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, a Fellow of Trinity College, Melbourne and is an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College at The University of Queensland. In 2016 Professor Langton was honoured as a University of Melbourne Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor.


    Professor Langton will present a keynote address on Tuesday 22 November.


  • John Challis

    Mr John Challis B.A., B.S.W., Dip Teach, Grad Dip, Soc. Sci: California Vice President at Center Point Inc. and previously Senior Vice President, Daytop New York.


    This year’s James A. Pitts Oration will be delivered by Mr John Challis, who will be well known to many working in the field as the CEO of Odyssey House Auckland from 1987 - 2004.


    John Challis is a Melbourne native with over 28 years of Behavioural health leadership in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. John is also a former Vice President of ATCA.


    John is currently the California Vice President of Center Inc. supervising and developing Residential, Outpatient, MAT, Assisted Withdrawal, HIV/HEPC and In-Custody treatment services and Community-based Criminal Justice services across the State.


    He has served as State Project Director for SAMHSA’S Co-occurring Center for Excellence working with 32 State, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Divisions in the integration of treatment services. He also served as Project Director for the Center for Excellence in integrated Care based at the National Development Research Institutes N.Y., working directly with the Integration of 650 substance Abuse and Mental Health Outpatient programs in New York State.


    Prior to his work with the N.D.R.I., John served as C.E.O. of Odyssey House in New Zealand for 18 years and Director of Adolescent Services for Odyssey House in Melbourne, Australia. His areas of expertise include the integration of research into practice, treatment of severely mentally ill in substance abuse treatment settings, behaviourally and emotionally disturbed children, adolescent program development, workforce development, clinical supervision, services and systems change and executive management.


    John has been involved with the therapeutic community throughout his career, and in particular is a strong believer in its potential to evolve and adapt to changing treatment needs.


    The James A. Oration will be delivered on Wednesday 23 November.


  • Gino Vumbaca

    Mr Gino Vumbaca: Principal of 3V Consulting Services.


    Gino Vumbaca is the Treasurer of Just Reinvest NSW, President of Harm Reduction Australia and Principal of 3V Consulting Services.

    Mr Vumbaca has extensive experience in the HIV/ AIDS and drug and alcohol fields both in Australia and internationally. He is a Churchill Fellow, has completed a Social Work degree and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Sydney and is a qualified Company Director.


    Gino is the former Executive Director of the Australian National Council on Drugs – a position he held for over 15 years – and which provided advice directly to the offices of the previous 4 Australian Prime Ministers (The Hon John Howard, The Hon Kevin Rudd, The Hon Julia Gillard and The Hon Tony Abbott) as well as numerous Ministers and senior officials. Previously he worked as the Manager of HIV/AIDS and related services with the NSW Department of Corrective Services, in a variety of drug and alcohol centres as a counsellor and was responsible for coordinating the establishment of the NSW network of needle and syringe exchange programs for the NSW Health Department. Gino also assisted in the establishment of Australia’s first needle and syringe program.


    Gino also continues to provide advice on prisons, HIV and drug issues for international organisations such as the United Nations & World Health Organisation.


    He is also President of the largest non-government drug and alcohol organisation in Macau SAR – ARTM and a Board member of the Organisation of the Families of Asia and the Pacific (OFAP) Macau.


    Gino will present on Prison Vs Rehab for First Nation Peoples, on Wednesday 23 November.




Tomorrow Does Not Exist
Working with people who have suffered enough loss that they feel that a positive tomorrow cannot exist.

Presented by Tom Regehr from CAST Canada

Book fast – workshop restricted to 44 participants!

Do you see people who are Perpetually Angry and Profoundly Stuck?

Gather a deep understanding of The Role Of Trauma, Loss and Unresolved Grief in your clients for whom “Tomorrow Does Not Exist.”


Learn safe, productive ways to move ahead. A dynamic blend of lecture, reflective experience, room discussion and tools.


Morning:  Introduction, Experiential Exercise and Debriefing

  • Introduction - 'trauma', traumatic stress, cycles of loss, unresolved grief, addiction etc.
  • Room discussion about the challenges of working with these folk
  • The " Heartset Exercise", an experiential exercise
  • Debriefing and application


Afternoon: Lecture and Discussion - 5 part guide. You will learn how to:

  • Identify clients for whom “Tomorrow Does Not Exist”
  • Talk with a client for whom Tomorrow Does Not Exist without doing harm
  • Identify the scope and nature of their 'today'
  • Introduce them to a functional healthy tomorrow and empower them to move ahead independently
  • Reflecting on Addiction/Substance use and self-harm


The Organic Origin of the TDNE concept and tools

Over a period of 6 years CAST Canada held more than 100 Panel discussions in which 3-4 people with direct experience with complex trauma and addiction spent 2-3 hours with 25-40 working health/helping professionals in open, frank and safe discussion. Over time themes and concrete ideas emerged about the important pieces of the individual experience as well as what was helpful in therapeutic relationships. These ideas were captured, proofed and re-visited by fresh panel members and audiences.  The ideas were then held up to known concepts of trauma and addiction from leading experts for connections. The result is a workshop based on the real experience of suffering and recovery and evidence based approaches. The tools and language are concrete, easy to remember, easy to use, holistic, helpful, respectful. Over 2,700 professionals participated.


Outcomes: You will,

  • Gain a better understanding of the effect of cumulative loss and traumatic stress.
  • Improve listening skills
  • Shift your expectations and definitions of what ‘progress’ is
  • Reduce your stress around these challenges
  • Be more able to be 'present' with your client and self.


Concrete - Easy to remember - Easy to use - Holistic - Helpful – Respectful



The ATCA Standard: Technical Expert Training

Presented by Barry Evans from ATCA in conjunction with

Institute for Healthy Communities Australia Inc (IHCA)


























































By application


The opportunity for delegates to visit some of our therapeutic communities and other services is an important part of the ATCA Conference program.  This year we are offering two fantastic opportunities for delegates to visit services in Victoria.  Please choose one of the options below.


Buses will depart from the Rydges Hotel on Monday morning and journey to the first of the programs listed for each tour (Windana Site visit 1; and Birribi Site visit 2).  Costs for each of these is included in your registration fee, and will include bus travel, morning/afternoon teas, and lunch.  You will have the opportunity to meet with staff and residents of each of these unique programs and discuss the variety of services offered.


Site visit 1


The Windana Therapeutic Community is a 40 bed residential facility located on a 40 acre property in Maryknoll, Victoria.  The program is delivered through four different phases over a period of 6-12 months.  Residents of all phases live together in shared accommodation across five separate houses to support each other through the program.






Bunjilwarra provides a 12 bed 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.




Site visit 2


Birribi ( YSAS) provides a structured, experiential environment based on therapeutic community principles for vulnerable young people managing their alcohol and drug use. Birribi is a 15-bed residential program, located in the north-east of Melbourne, providing a holistic program comprising a mix of group and individual therapy, recreational, vocational and educational activities, with an overall focus on community living and shared responsibility.




Odyssey House is a 113 bed therapeutic community that integrates a 32 bed family program into its operations. Following a social psychiatric model of recovery, the program offers a comprehensive assessment of medical, psychological, and psychiatric need and follows a balanced daily routine of maintenance/ work related activity, passive and active recreational pursuits, good nutrition and adequate rest.

Odyssey has beds allocated specifically for parents with accompanying children from birth to age twelve. On-site child care and family sensitive practice are central to program planning.



The Conference Organisers have negotiated a special discounted accommodation rate with Rydges Melbourne Hotel during the ATCA Conference. Rydges is delighted to offer a special rate for delegates of $170.00 on Sunday 20 November and $205.00 per night room for other nights (valid for a Queen Deluxe Room or Deluxe Twin Room):


Sunday, 20 November

Monday, 21 November

Tuesday, 22 November, and

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


As rooms are limited, please book as soon as possible.


To book, please follow these simple steps:


  1. Call the hotel on 03 9662 0511 OR email
  2. If calling, please press ‘1’ for reservations
  3. Provide the reservations staff with your booking details (dates of your stay, name, contact details, credit card details) and the event code: H- ATC111016
  4. Subject to availability, your reservation will be made and a confirmation sent to the provided email address



Hotel and Conference Venue


186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Victoria 3000 Australia


Register yourself or a group by credit card





Register yourself or a group by direct deposit












Special assistance from:


Gold Sponsor:

Bronze Sponsors:

Travel Scholarships:


Contact Name: Lynne Magor-Blatch

Company Name: Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association

Telephone: +61 422 904 040