Key messages

  • As part of implementing the ten-year alcohol and drug workforce framework, resources are being developed to help service providers to better understand and support their workforces and build a sustainable, competent and capable workforce for the future.
  • Key strategies have been identified through recent projects in the mental health and alcohol and other drug sectors and specifically for youth and rural alcohol and other drug services.
  • These projects provide a comprehensive range of tools and resources to build and sustain workforce capability and expertise.
  • A significant strategy is the Change Agent Network. It involves 20 organisational leaders from across the Victorian alcohol and other drug sector and promotes best practice, collaboration and improvements in outcomes and workforce culture.

Workforce strategies

As part of implementing the ten-year alcohol and drug workforce framework, resources are being developed to help service providers to better understand and support their workforces. These resources will also contribute to building a sustainable, competent and capable workforce for the future.

The ‘building block’ projects, described here, offer resources to support workforce planning in terms of supply and capability.

Alcohol and other drug workforce surveys

Workforce surveys are undertaken periodically to assist with workforce planning in the sector. Data includes key workforce indicators that enable the department and the sector to monitor changes in the demographic and clinical profile of the workforce over time, identify trends and develop appropriate strategic responses to emerging issues and needs.

The third survey is scheduled for late 2015 to update the surveys undertaken in 2013 and 2009.

Mental health and alcohol and drug workforce capability framework

The 2015 Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Workforce Capability Framework Project is underway. The framework articulates the universal knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed by workers across the publicly funded specialist mental health and alcohol and other drug sectors to deliver evidence-based practice that aligns to new legislation and service reform initiatives.

The framework will strengthen the capabilities of these workforces and support service improvement within the new recovery-oriented, client-driven service delivery model.

Development of the framework has involved extensive cross-sector input. It is in its final draft and will be distributed by the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services to both sectors for consultation.

What the framework means for alcohol and other drug agencies

The framework provides a set of domains to guide best practice for all workers across proficiency levels and for leaders. It will also offer a variety of tools and resources to alcohol and other drug agencies to enable them to implement the framework in service delivery, including in learning and development activities, across various settings.

Youth alcohol and drugs workforce capabilities project

The 2015 Youth Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Capabilities Project is focused on adapting the 2015 Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Workforce Capability Framework to the specific youth alcohol and other drug service context.

The project illustrates how the framework can be adapted to unique contexts for alcohol and other drug workers in specific settings and service users.

The Youth Support and Advocacy Service is undertaking the project on behalf of the department.

Rural workforce innovation grant program

The 2013-14 Rural Workforce Innovation Grant Program showcased innovations implemented by 13 rural alcohol and other drug and mental health services to bring about positive workforce change and support sustainable rural health services into the future.

The Rural Workforce Innovation Grant Program - synthesis of case studies summarises the case studies produced by the services. It highlights the project achievements and success factors common to implementing the initiatives. The report also addresses the challenges associated with workforce change.

Effective leadership through the Change Agent Network

The Change Agent Network (CAN) is a community of practice for organisational leaders across the alcohol and other drug sector. Membership includes chief executive officers, program managers, service managers, team leaders, social workers, nurse managers and operations managers from a range of services in the alcohol and other drug sector.

CAN was established in 2014 by the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services in collaboration with the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.

Benefits of CAN for the alcohol and other drug sector

CAN benefits participants, their organisations and the alcohol and other drug sector through:

  • the effective translation of evidence into best practice
  • a collaborative culture, committed to critical reflection and evidence-based practice
  • significant enhancements in clinical standards, workforce practices, client experiences and clinical outcomes
  • better succession planning, professional development and leadership culture based on collaboration rather than competition.