Austria

October 2018

Overview of Blus Cross Austria

  • The beginnings go back to 1905, when a number of people founded the first group in Carinthia. Only in 1923 did they officially become the “Blaues Kreuz Österreich”.
  • The BC Austria entirely depends on the work of volunteers. About 30  are leading self-help groups and offering one-on-one counselling. There is only one employee working part- time in admin and communications.

Fields of Work

  • Prevention Work: to raise awareness and sensitise the society as to what alcoholism and addiction actually is and how to help someone dealing with that kind of illness. Through  addiction counsellor seminars, public talks, school visits and leisure opportunities people get information  on the issue.
  • BC Austria runs approximately 30–35 self-help groups as well as one-on-one counselling all over Austria. Regardless of whether someone is suffering from an addiction or just seeking help for a family member or friend, everyone is welcome.

Q&A with Gerhard Wildbichler, Member of the Board, Secretary; Group Leader & Head of counseling center Graz, Steiermark

Gerhard Wildbichler

1. Why is the Blue Cross work important to you?

As somebody with first-hand experience of alcohol addiction, I first came across the Blue Cross during in- patient therapy and from then on I was a regular visitor to the Graz information centre. As is probably the case with most chronic illnesses, which require lifelong after-care, the work of the Blue Cross as well as my own work for them is indispensable in order to live a happy and abstinent life.

2. Are you convinced of the impact of your work - if so, which aspects?

My work for the Blue Cross has opened and continues to open doors to many social environmnents  and areas in the health care system. In my area I am gratetful to have the chance to change people’s attitude to addiction and thanks to God’s grace and professional support which allows me to led an abstinent life and in turn do the same for others.

3. What was your happiest moment during your time with Blue Cross?

Through my many years of working with the Blue Cross, I have been able to show those suffering from addiction and their familes that asking for and accepting help is not a sign of weakness but of strength. I cannot pinpoint one specific moment of satisfaction but I feel deeply moved  when I can accompany people, whose lives are marked by suffering and misfortune, some  of the way and share their happiness.

4. What is/was your biggest challenge in your work for Blue Cross?

Basically each task related to our activities and those of the information centre presents a new challenge. Just as each person is different so are their worries and fears and this calls for a high level of consideration for each other. My biggest challenge is crisis intervention and how to deal with suicide threats or visits to prisons, clinics and similar  institutions where sufferers and their relatives both need support.

5. Blue Cross in your country: What do you consider as your most important project?

As a member of the Board of the Austrian BC I have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in developing projects. As a speaker in our addiction advisor seminars, professional training and life long learning for our employees is a priority as well as the sharing of professional resources through seminars, workshops, round tables and similar events in schools, companies, associations and other interest groups.