SERVICE PROFILE: Hot House Youth Specialised Clinical Service

This month Dovetail introduces a new feature to our email digest through the form of a monthly service profile. First up to the blocks we have the Hot House from Brisbane. We recently interviewed the team to find out more about what they do.


Firstly, what is the Hot House?

The Hot House is a free and confidential alcohol and drug treatment service for people under 25 with complex alcohol and other drug concerns. Hot House is a Queensland Health service and is based within Metro North Mental Health - Alcohol and Drug Service.

Who are the Hot House Team?

We are a team of 6 made up of psychologists and social workers. We have diverse backgrounds working in both the youth and adult sectors in areas such a mental health, forensic and disability, but we have found our passion working in the youth alcohol and drug sector. The manager John has been at the Hot House for 14 years, Emma 10 years and Cassie 8 years.  Laura, Tanya, and Rob have all been here for about 4 years. We believe these long tenures reflect the high quality of our work environment.

Who do you see?

The young people we see are of high complexity and tend to have significant alcohol and drug problems as well as co-occurring psycho-social problems like homelessness, mental health, family relationship issues, or involvement with child safety and criminal justice systems.  We can also work with significant others of young people who are actively engaged with the Hot House, as it tends to enhance treatment outcomes. This might include working with parents, carers, partners, siblings, or even other service providers.

Are there any other criteria?

It's difficult to say because with referrals are considered on a case by case basis, but we tend to service complex and specialised needs, or the 'pointy end of the stick'. Priority is given to young people who are falling through treatment gaps or who are referred by mental health services, drug and alcohol detox units (inpatient or outpatient), or GPs.

Where are you based?

We have 3 locations including the 'Biala' City Clinic on Roma St, Hot House Redcliffe on the Redcliffe Esplanade and we also provide a clinic at The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside,  on a Thursday.

The Hot House also provides a number of outreach clinics on an on-going basis, as we find that for a lot of young people it's good to meet at a service where they are comfortable. We deliver clinics at Open Doors (an LGBT service in Brisbane), the Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service (HADS) the Adolescent Mental Health Unit at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, Nundah Headspace, Caboolture Child and Youth Mental Health Service, Caboolture Youth Justice and the Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service at Lawnton.

How was the name Hot House created?

In 1988 the service moved from the Biala building on Roma Street into a community setting. The new location was on a really busy main road in an old Queenslander house that was very hot and had no air-conditioning… and the name stuck!

What do you enjoy most about working at Hot House?

We all have a passion for working with young people and enjoy the work we do. Something great about the team is that we draw on each other's strengths and work really well together. Sharing a similar commitment to the work creates a great team culture.

What do you enjoy most about working with young people?

It's their strength, resilience and the fact that everyone's story is different. It's amazing to see the strength that young people show considering where many of them have come from and the issues they have to deal with. The young people we see are in a really interesting time in there lives where they are forming their identity and it's exciting to be around when young people are discovering who they are and what sort of person they want to be.

What are some key ingredients to a good youth AOD service?

Good engagement and collaboration is very important for treatment outcomes and as a team we are focused on reducing the barriers for young people seeking treatment. We work very hard when people first contact us and ensure they start talking to a clinician straight away, and we ensure that our service environment is youth-friendly. We have also found that through doing a lot of outreach work, we have established strong relationships with other services. This really helps to build referral pathways and translates to better outcomes for young people.

Are there any special projects or initiatives that you're involved in currently?

A new project we're focusing on involves the range of new and emerging drugs coming through the market and the use of synthetic substances among young people seeking treatment. We have also been conducting research with LGBT young people which we hope to submit shortly.

If your service had a whole day and unlimited funds to hold a team building day, what would you do?

We would go to Vegas in fancy dress! Or perhaps to a tropical island so we can rest, relax and enjoy each other's company.

How do I get in touch with your service?

To contact the Hot House phone 3837 5633 or 1800 177 833 (Alcohol and Drug Information Service).

Our address is:

'Biala' Building,

3rd Floor, 270 Roma Street, Brisbane Q 4001

(across the road from the Roma St Transit Centre)

A big thankyou to John Kelly, Emma Armitage, Cassie Davis, Laura Quinlan, Tanya Wallace and Rob Harrison from the Hot House for contributing to this feature.

If you would like to nominate your service for an upcoming feature profile please contact us at