Bridges' purpose is to support people in making lifestyle and relationship choices and in managing conflict, while reducing the harm associated with alcohol and other drug usage. Looking at these issues within a social and family context, we work with communities, families, individuals and organisations, with a view to breaking down isolation and building on strengths.
Bridges services operate predominately across the Blacktown Local Government Area in Western Sydney. However we also find inspiration from contacts and opportunities presented further afield. We connect with broader networks and partnerships.
History and Approach
From its inception, Bridges took a unique approach to social problems. Originally called “Drink In Family Support Services" (DIFSS), the service began in 1978 in response to a need for a specialised service for family members affected by someone else’s drinking. In its early years, the organisation undertook community development as well as family support activities. Auspiced by Centacare for two years before it became an independent organisation, DIFFS worked on three levels: counselling with individuals and families, groups and community development. Alcohol problems, and later drug problems, were viewed and responded to in a family context. In contrast to many agencies that treated the individual with the problem, Bridges has always focused on family, community and broader social context as significant factors in providing treatment, intervention and prevention strategies.
Bridges recognises that alcohol and other drug problems can have an impact on and be influenced by other issues. These can include housing, mental health, relationships, unemployment, stigma, racism, abuse, family conflict, domestic violence, poverty, peer pressure and isolation.
Given that no single organisation can address the complex issues in a community related to alcohol and other drug problems, over time Bridges has put an increasing emphasis on collaborating with many different organisations. Bridges, while partnering and gaining contributions from many others, has developed what is now called The Bridges Network Approach for addressing alcohol and other drug issues, and also other social issues.
To date Bridges has remained small: i.e. small and networked. Bridges has had many challenges common to small community organisations. However Bridges is a very resilient and dynamic organisation. We take great pride in the positive community and sectoral change that we help bring about. We also promote just how much can be achieved by small community organisations and networks. We led the establishment of the Voice for SONG (Small Organisations non Government) network.
Bridges has extensive documented history and is a case study of the development of a social innovation coming from a small community organisation that promotes systemic change to address social issues.
You can also view much of Bridges history through the eyes of the local media
Please contact us if you are interested in accessing our services, developing a new partnership or would just like some more information.