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Drug Policy and Reform News

Hi all,

Welcome to the final edition of the drug policy newsletter for 2016.

Firstly, I would like to take the time to introduce myself - my name is Ross Broad and earlier this month I commenced as the Assistant Director of Drug Policy and Reform.

It has been a busy year and there is certainly a lot going on within the sector at this point in time. This newsletter is intended to provide you with a snapshot of this activity by updating you on the key projects we are working on, highlighting sector developments and outlining opportunities for collaboration.

While we cannot capture everything, we would welcome your feedback on this bulletin, including on any topics you would like to see included in future editions.

Comments can be provided by emailing

On behalf of the whole team, I would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

I look forward to working with you all in 2017, and strengthening the communication between the Department and our stakeholders in the alcohol and other drug sector.


Ross Broad
Assistant Director
Drug Policy and Reform

Improving access to drug treatment

On 16 December, the Department announced changes to the drug treatment system to improve access for clients.

Consistent with directions identified in the Aspex Review, responsibility for conducting comprehensive assessment and treatment planning will move from intake providers to treatment providers. This change will allow drug treatment providers to conduct assessments as the first stage in developing therapeutic relationships with clients.

Under the new arrangements, catchment based intake services will continue to deliver intake triage and screening, brief interventions and bridging support up until the clients' assessment. Treatment services will deliver bridging support to clients from the point of assessment.

There will be no change to overall funding for the sector as part of these changes.

The Department will continue to work closely with the sector to progress implementation of these changes during the first quarter of the 2017-18 financial year (no later than 1 October 2017), with final timing and transitional arrangements to support the changes to be developed in partnership with affected services.

The Department will be meeting with affected organisations in early 2017 to discuss considerations for implementing these changes.

The Department will also provide regular updates on the transition of services, including further opportunities for the sector to provide feedback on planning and implementation.

For more information on the changes, please see the Department's website.

Other treatment system improvements

In addition to the new arrangements for intake and assessment, the Department has been progressing other key areas of work which will respond to recommendations of the Aspex review to improve the alcohol and drug treatment system.

Victorian Alcohol and other drug Data Collection

The project to redevelop the Victorian Alcohol and other drug Data Collection is nearing completion and it is anticipated that specifications will be made available to service providers early in 2017.

The work has been guided by a Reference Group with representation from across the sector, a range of face to face consultations and a statewide survey.

Further information will be available on the Department's website in the coming weeks.

Enquiries regarding the project can be forwarded to

Alcohol and Other Drug Program Guidelines

The Department has been developing Alcohol and Other Drug Program Guidelines in collaboration with the sector to provide clarity about the Department's expectations of funded providers. A consultation draft of the guidelines went out to the sector for comment, and submissions closed on 25 November 2016.

Thank you to all those who took the time to provide feedback. This feedback will be used to inform a revised edition of the guidelines.

Performance Management Framework

The Department has also been working with the sector to develop a new Performance Management Framework, which outlines how the Department will measure the performance of funded providers into the future. A consultation draft of the framework is now available for sector feedback. Feedback is requested by 31 January 2017.

Enquiries regarding the Program Guidelines and the Performance Management Framework can be emailed to

Service planning

A project has commenced to develop an Alcohol and Other Drug Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan that will enable the Department to identify priorities for future alcohol and other drug investment, with regard to forecast demand growth, evolving models of care and existing service infrastructure.

The Department will be establishing a Project Advisory Group including representatives from across the sector and will commence consultation with stakeholders in the new year.

The project has a tight timeframe, with the Department aiming to finalise the plan by mid-2017.

Development of an alcohol and other drug treatment model for offenders

Justice Health and the Department are conducting a joint project to develop an agreed alcohol and other drug treatment model of practice for offenders.

Key objectives of the project are:

  • Enhancing the forensic focus in community based alcohol and other drug treatment services
  • Improving access for offenders to community based alcohol and other drug services
  • Improving collaboration, coordination and accountability between alcohol and other drug services and Community Correctional Services for the monitoring, treatment, treatment finalisation and order compliance of offenders on Community Correction Orders who require alcohol and other drug treatment
  • Improving workforce capability to implement the service enhancements and operating model
  • Improving effective governance over the delivery of services, the implementation of the model both centrally and at the local level, and the development of effective reporting and monitoring tools
  • Delivering an enhanced and efficient forensic operating model for forensic alcohol and other drug treatment.

The first steps have involved bringing together alcohol and other drug service providers and Community Corrections Staff to develop a set of joint principles, a program logic model and a proposed typology matrix. Two workshops have been held across November and December to begin this work and a Clinical Advisory Group is currently being established.

There will be opportunities for broader sector consultation and feedback during the development process.

'Choices' - Low risk offender alcohol and other drug education program

'Choices' is a new three hour education program designed to help low risk offenders identify and address harms associated with their alcohol or other drug use.

The program will be available for any offender on a Community Corrections Order with an accompanying alcohol or other drug condition who are assessed as a low risk of re-offending.

Those identified during the program as requiring additional support or treatment will be referred back to ACSO for assessment and appropriate treatment.

Priority roll-out of the program has begun in areas of high demand. Broader state-wide implementation will begin in January 2017.

For further information, please email

Needle and Syringe Program equipment update

The Department has been responding to issues identified with the current supply of 27 gauge needles and syringes, particularly about the Korean-made equipment that was made available in April this year.

The Department has sourced an alternative Becton Dickinson 27 gauge 1 ml product, which is now available to order. A 29 gauge 1 ml needle and syringe is also available.

Needle and Syringe Program clients should continue to use safe injecting practices while this is happening, including never re-using or sharing equipment.

Re-using and sharing equipment can lead to the spread of blood borne infections and injury. Key messages to be distributed to Needle and Syringe Program clients are:

  • Always use sterile equipment
  • Take enough equipment so you don't have to share or re-use it
  • Get familiar with using the Korean-made product until new equipment is available.

Peer-led networks trial

On International Overdose Awareness Day (31 August), the Victorian Government announced it would invest in a peer-led networks trial across six hotspot areas for overdose, including Brimbank/Maribyrnong, Greater Dandenong, Greater Geelong, the City of Melbourne, Port Phillip and the City of Yarra.

This initiative aims to strengthen and improve the scope of peer education in Victoria.

On 13 December 2016, it was announced that six local agencies will receive funding to improve access to clean injecting equipment, information and support for those who are disadvantaged and at risk of drug overdose.

Youth Projects in Melbourne's CBD, Inner South Community Health in Port Phillip and North Richmond Community Health in Yarra will carry out targeted support through inner Melbourne.

Cohealth, Monash Health and Barwon Health will focus on Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Dandenong and Geelong.

Harm Reduction Victoria and the Association of Participating Service Users will also receive funding to help coordinate the peer-led networks initiative, providing workforce support and training as well as evaluation.

To complement this approach, the Penington Institute has received funding to conduct a review into emerging models designed to reduce fatal overdoses and other harms resulting from drug use. This work will place a particular focus on the use of peer workers.

2016 Community Ice Action Grant recipients

Twelve Victorian community groups have received a grant of up to $10,000 to help tackle ice use in their local area.

The grants have been awarded to community groups from Melbourne's urban fringe, and rural and regional Victoria.

Community Ice Action Grants can be used to deliver local initiatives in response to ice, for example workshops, forums, local campaigns, training for specific groups and engagement with young people.

This is the second year the grants have been allocated. This year's recipients are:

  • Moogji Aboriginal Council East Gippsland (Orbost, Lake Tyers and Lakes Entrance)
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • The Victorian AIDS Council (Bendigo)
  • Moira Shire Council (Cobram, Nathalia, Numurkah and Yarrawonga)
  • Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative
  • Wodonga City Council
  • Brophy Family and Youth Services (Warrnambool)
  • Central Victoria Australian Football Commission (Bendigo)
  • Black Eagles Basketball Club (Shepparton)
  • Moorabool Drug Action Group (Bacchus Marsh)
  • Mitchell Shire Council (Seymour, Broadford and Wallan)
  • Frankston Mornington Peninsula Primary Care Partnership.

The grants are part of the Victorian Government's Ice Action Plan to prevent harms associated with ice use.

The Victorian Government has invested a total of $103 million to respond to ice, including $57.6 million in the 2016-17 Budget.

Quick links

Revised policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence

Victoria's Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence has been revised. The tightened guidelines deliver stronger, clearer and safer advice on the provision of pharmacotherapies throughout Victoria. They place a significant focus on pharmacotherapy take-away doses, which can be fatal if diverted, shared or ingested incorrectly. Hardcopies are available upon request. For further information, please email


On 30 November 2016, Turning Point launched Ambo-AODstats, an online interactive mapping website that provides the most recent published data on alcohol and other drug related ambulance attendances in Victoria. The initiative is funded by the Victorian Government and provides a valuable tool for monitoring long-term trends and changes in alcohol and other drug related harm.


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