Key messages

  • The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services provides a range of tools and resources to assist the alcohol and other drug sector to improve outcomes, promote evidence-based practice and support a dynamic workforce.
  • A recent initiative is the 2013-14 Rural Workforce Innovation Grant Program. The case studies developed as part of this program provide key learnings for rural Victorian service providers to assist them to address workforce challenges through innovation.

The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services provides a range of tools and resources to assist the alcohol and other drug sector to improve outcomes for service users and the community, promote evidence-based practice and support a dynamic workforce.

Rural workforce innovation

Alcohol and other drug services in rural Victoria face considerable challenges due to the geographical and demographic profile of the population, compounded by rural workforce issues including staff shortages, high levels of staff turnover and difficulties recruiting new staff.

The 2013-14 Rural Workforce Innovation Grant Program provides key learnings for rural service providers to assist them to address these challenges through workforce innovation.

What the key learnings mean for rural drug and alcohol agencies

Case studies of the projects funded through the Rural Workforce Innovation Grant Program identify significant factors in facilitating workforce initiatives in rural areas. These include enabling staff engagement and ownership by giving staff repeated input and feedback opportunities, involving them in solutions and training them to better manage changes. Through acknowledgement of their achievements, staff are motivated and affirmed and the benefits of the initiative are showcased.

Successful organisational innovation requires adequate time to plan, implement, embed and adapt to the change. This is best facilitated by involving staff in the project who have the capacity, expertise and attributes to support long-term change, as well as appointing local champions from within the team to steer the project. Management buy-in and support is crucial to reinforce organisational commitment to the initiative and provide strong leadership.