INTRODUCTION This study investigates substance use in a regional town in South Australia. METHODS The study objectives were to identify Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal views on and individual practices in substance use, and its impact on the community. Working together, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members identified the scope of the issue of substance use using four broad questions, and where solutions might lie. Individuals also reported their personal substance use. Qualitative methods involving 24 focus groups (n = 211) and 285 key informant interviews (Aboriginal n = 160, non-Aboriginal n = 125) were used to obtain the data. Quantitative data were generated from structured elements of the key informant interviews. RESULTS Alcohol was the main substance of concern, especially among young people. High marijuana use was also identified. The contribution of substance use to relationship breakdown and the impact this has on families and the community was an important theme. There was agreement on the need for broad community strategies to link and strengthen agencies that deal with substance use issues in Gallinyalla, and to promote the reconciliation process. CONCLUSION The implications for policy and practice from this project support the need for substance use strategies in which the community plays a major role.