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Alcohol and Drug Sector news - April 2017

Hi all,

There have been a number of important developments in the alcohol and other drug sector already in 2017, including intake and assessment changes, new harm reduction initiative funding and the expansion of the Drug Court of Victoria.

The Drug Policy and Reform team has also visited several service providers to touch base and discuss some of the new developments, including Odyssey House, UnitingCare ReGen, YSAS, Turning Point, North Richmond Community Health, Salvation Army and Harm Reduction Victoria (for the first peer-led network meeting).

It has been great to visit and continue to put faces to names while learning more about the great work our services do for Victorians.

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


Ross Broad
Assistant Director
Drug Policy and Reform

New harm reduction initiatives

In February, the Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley MP, announced an additional investment of $1.3 million this year to help to reduce drug related harm and fatal overdoses across Victoria. This funding will support a range of harm reduction measures, including:

Increased access to Naloxone

Funding will be made available to service providers across the state to subsidise the cost of Naloxone, expanding its availability both in current hotspots for overdose and across the rest of Victoria. In addition, training will be provided for families, friends and front line workers to identify the signs of overdose and safely administer the lifesaving medication.

Expanded outreach services through new post overdose response

This initiative will establish a new service response that reaches out to people who survive overdose, providing short term counselling support and connecting them to health and other support services in their location of choice. Assertive outreach positions will be based in six Victorian overdose hotspots, including Port Phillip, Yarra, Brimbank/Maribyrnong, Dandenong, Geelong and the City of Melbourne.

Expanded overdose prevention and education

This initiative will support a time-limited education campaign targeting some of the behaviours that increase the risk of fatal overdose among illicit drug users. This information will be made available to drug users at key locations such as needle and syringe outlets and other harm reduction and health services.

A co-design workshop was held on 21 March at Dialogue Conference Centre to design these initiatives, ensuring that models build on existing services while also looking at innovative solutions. The department will provide additional detail as it becomes available, with the initiatives expected to roll out from April 2017.

Peer-led networks trial - update

On 15 February 2017, the Minister Foley met with peer workers and senior staff from Inner South Community Health and Youth Projects to announce further details regarding the peer-led networks trial.

Through the initiatives, participating agencies will be allocated $75,000 per annum over an initial two year period to develop and implement initiatives that support peer workers and agencies in responding to local need relating to drug use.

The participating agencies held their first peer-led networks meeting on 8 March 2017 at Harm Reduction Victoria, where agencies were able to connect and share information and experiences regarding peer workers. 

Transition to new intake and assessment arrangements

The department is working closely with the sector to implement changes to the alcohol and other drug intake and assessment arrangements over the coming months. Following consultation with the sector across January and February 2017, the department has developed an intake and assessment transition and implementation plan to ensure workforce stability for the sector and service continuity for clients during the change process. The plan outlines the activities the department is undertaking to support the sector to transition to the new arrangements, which will commence on 1 July 2017.

View the communique.

This website provides further information about the changes, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions which will continue to be added to across the course of the transition period.

The department is committed to providing strong communication to the sector throughout the transition process, with regular updates to be provided through a range of media including the website, newsletters and the VAADA E-News. The department will continue to work with the sector to closely monitor the transition, and organisations are encouraged to provide feedback to regional departmental contacts throughout the transition process.

Providers are continuing discussions at a consortia and catchment level on how best to manage the transition and promote service continuity for our clients. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact

Expansion of the Drug Court of Victoria

A new Drug Court has been established at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court. Complementing the existing Dandenong Drug Court, it provides capacity for an additional 170 people on Drug Treatment Orders per year to receive targeted support. Alcohol and other drug counselling services will be provided on site by Odyssey House Victoria and UnitingCare ReGen.

The opening of the Drug Court was held on 30 March 2017, with the Premier of Victoria, the Hon Daniel Andrews MP, among those in attendance.

Victorian Alcohol and other drug Data Collection

The data collection project is on track for release shortly.

Further information, including Q&As and fact sheets, will be available on the department’s website in the coming weeks. In addition, information sessions on the new system will be held in both metropolitan and regional Victoria. Dates and venues will be confirmed shortly.

Enquiries regarding the project can be forwarded to

Alcohol and Other Drug Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan

The Alcohol and Other Drug Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan project is now well underway. KPMG have been engaged to draft the Plan building on their experience in preparing the Clinical Mental Health service plan for the department.

The primary objectives of the project are to develop an Alcohol and Other Drug Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan that:

  • maps current service provision and infrastructure
  • projects key locations of future growth in demand
  • highlights gaps and priorities for future investment in Alcohol and Other Drug services and infrastructure
  • describes intersections with related work, for example development of the Alcohol and Other Drug treatment model for offenders (with Justice Health)
  • is fit for purpose and implementable across the state-funded system.

The department has established a Project Advisory Group to oversee the project with representatives from across the sector. There will be workshops and broader consultation during the process of developing the plan.

Interesting information

  • Karen Cusack will be Victoria's first Health Complaints Commissioner, which replaces the Health Services Commissioner. This position was created under the new Health Complaints Act 2016, which came into effect on 2 February 2017.

  • It is anticipated that round three of the Community Ice Action grants will open in 1 May 2017. Over the last two years, 25 community groups received grants of up to $10,000 each to help tackle ice in their local area. The department will provide further details in the near future.

  • Mark your calendars - VAADA will host the next Service Providers conference on 26 May 2017 at Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre. Further details on this event will be provided soon.


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