health.vic logo Victorian Government Logo

Drug Policy and Reform News - December 2017

Hi all,

What a year it has been. The recently announced Drug Rehabilitation Plan really caps off a bustling year of exciting developments and investment.

Looking back at 2017, all of us in the sector can proudly claim our part in delivering a number of significant achievements, including:

  • transition to new intake and assessment arrangements, with updated program guidelines and performance management framework
  • roll-out of a range of harm reduction initiatives, including the peer-led network trial, naloxone subsidies and education, proactive overdose response
  • a new phase of collaborative practice between family violence, child protection, mental health and the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) sectors to improve outcomes for individuals and families
  • implementation of a range of new initiatives to expand access to treatment services as part of the $78m Stage 3 of the Ice Action Plan
  • announcement of a trial of a medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your contribution, support and spirited engagement as we work together to deliver on the Victorian Government's significant expansion of treatment and harm reduction services.

As a result of your enthusiasm, commitment and leadership, we have made substantial progress in building more collaborative, integrated and improved service responses. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you in 2018.

We wish you a safe and happy holiday season and hope that many of you have the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing break in advance of a big 2018.

As always, we 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

Best wishes,
All the team at the Drug Policy and Reform Unit

Drug Rehabilitation Plan

The recently announced Drug Rehabilitation Plan provides an additional $87 million to continue to address drug harms by:

  • Establishing 100 new residential rehabilitation beds, responding to advocacy from the sector for expansion. These beds will be established through a combination of expanding existing rehabilitation services and other health facilities and are in addition to new facilities in the Grampians, Gippsland, Barwon and Hume regions which will progressively come online from October 2018.
  • Trialling a new 28 day withdrawal and rehabilitation model to provide a more clinically intense and integrated treatment model that will help stabilise complex clients and reduce rates of re-presentation to hospital.
  • Establishing a practical advisory service to provide support to assist people and families trying to urgently locate drug treatment services.
  • Trialling a medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond to reduce preventable deaths and harm being caused by drug overdoses, and provide a gateway to vital health and support services, including mental health services, drug treatment, rehabilitation and support.
  • Boosting the AOD workforce through an immediate $2.5 million investment to support a recruitment and retention campaign to attract people to a life-long career in the AOD sector, new scholarships and free and high quality training for new workers.
  • Increasing oversight of poor quality, unsafe private drug and alcohol treatment providers by supporting the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner to enhance monitoring and investigation into private drug and alcohol treatment providers.
  • Introducing new measures to target drug dealers, such as increasing sentences for commercial heroin traffickers, and sentencing reforms to target the role of organised crime in commercial drug trafficking.
  • Expanding compulsory treatment for people with complex needs and violent behaviours by working with Victoria Police and other experts to develop effective treatment options.

Medically Supervised Injecting Room trial

The department has stood up a new project team to progress work on the medically supervised injecting room trial. Tom Abbott has joined the unit as Project Manager to help take this important initiative forward.

The Victorian Government's proposed legislation allows for a trial at one site - the North Richmond Community Health centre on Lennox Street. This site was chosen because it is close to where people buy and sell drugs, and the centre already provides many vital health services to reduce the spread of blood borne viruses and other harms associated with drug use.

The trial will take place for an initial two-year period with the option to extend for a further three years.

Thanks to all those who have attended sector briefing sessions scheduled so far. Further information, including additional sector briefing sessions, will be provided ahead of the service opening in mid-2018.

Service Providers' Conference (2 November 2017)

November's conference featured a full agenda of presentations and workshops. Highlights included:

  • Strategies to facilitate integrated care including appropriate funding approaches, organisational structures, and coordinated service delivery, and the importance of leadership, accountability, agreed values and stakeholders' commitment.
  • Prevalence, impact and initiatives underway to address family violence, including insights on perpetrators' patterns of control and coercive behaviour, and methods of practitioner engagement to avoid collusion with perpetrators.
  • Update and panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities arising from the implementation of the Real Time Prescription Monitoring system (now referred to as Safe Script).

Slides from the conference are available from the VAADA website.

Victorian Alcohol and Drug Collection (VADC) update

VADC implementation is well underway. Five agency information sessions were held in the past three months, including two in regional Victoria. A VADC Implementation Reference Group, consisting primarily of alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment providers, has been established and held its initial meeting in September.

Three new documents were recently released to support service providers and software vendors with VADC implementation processes:

  • VADC Implementation Guide
  • Secure Data Exchange Registration Guide and
  • XSD Validation File.

An implementation monitoring template will soon be distributed, which will assist providers to more easily submit regular and timely updates.

There is now less than a year remaining before agencies will need to have VADC compliant systems. It is vital that all service providers are now considering their options and moving to implement necessary changes. Thank you to the vast majority of service providers that have indicated to the department their preferred new system and likely timeframes for implementation.

Visit the VADC section on health.vic for more project updates.

Forensic update

It has been a busy year in working in the forensic AOD space and we would like to thank everyone for their participation in developing the new Forensic AOD Service Delivery Model.

This has recently been endorsed by the governance groups and has moved to early implementation phase with the trial of the Collaborative Practice Framework and the re-establishment of the KickStart 42 hour group criminogenic program - which have both been going well.

We are excited to be rolling the treatment typology out over the next few months, with the expansion of KickStart to 3 additional sites and the development and roll out of a 24 hour group program and complementary structured individual counselling models.

The call for submissions to deliver these targeted AOD interventions for medium to high risk offenders is now open with a closing date of 3pm, Monday 18 December.  Please contact for more information.

Other interesting news

Congratulations to Professor Dan Lubman, who was awarded the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Senior Research Award, and SHARC - a finalist in the 2017 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards for 'Promoting the voice and needs of family in drug treatment'.


Follow us on Twitter  @vicgovdhhs

Get the latest health news and updates

Connect with us

Twitter Facebook YouTube RSS
© Copyright State of Victoria