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Drug Policy and Reform News - April 2018

Hi all,

We hope you enjoyed a few days’ rest over the recent Easter break.

2018 is set to be another year of exciting development and expansion in the AOD sector. In this e-news, we highlight key recommendations from the Parliamentary Inquiry into Drug Law Reform, and update you on the progress on a number of significant initiatives that are underway as part of the Drug Rehabilitation Plan and the Ice Action Plan. We hope this helps inform our collective efforts for the year ahead.

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 aod.enquiries@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Regards, 
Ross Broad, Assistant Director, Drug Policy and Reform

Inquiry into Drug Law Reform

The Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee tabled the final report of the Inquiry into Drug Law Reform on 27 March 2018. The 640 page report contains 50 recommendations addressing legislation, policy and programs across the Victorian Government.

Key themes from the recommendations include:

  • A more integrated approach to drug policy across government, supported by rigorous performance evaluation, better intelligence on drug harms and trends and an ongoing advisory role for experts.
  • A strong emphasis on diversion from criminal responses for drug use and possession offences, and integrated therapeutic and social responses for complex drug-related offending.
  • Increased planning and investment to support wider access to drug services, especially harm reduction and treatment, and to improve connectivity between health care and drug services.
  • Increased community education and awareness on drug issues, particularly leadership from government on de-stigmatising drug use, drug dependence and people who use drugs.

The Government has thanked the Committee and all those who gave evidence to the Inquiry for their time and effort. The Government is considering the report and will respond in coming months.


Victorian Alcohol and Drug Collection (VADC) update

The deadline date for all in-scope service providers to be collecting VADC-compliant data is now only six months away. Service providers are working hard to implement the new collection, and the department has begun receiving data extracts. The department is working closely with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to support VADC implementation in 67 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

The final 2018-19 specification has now been released, as well as other updated supporting guidance including a request for information from software vendors. If you have not received these documents, please contact: aoddatadev@dhhs.vic.gov.au. For more information, visit the VADC website.


Medically Supervised Injecting Room trial

The Victorian Government is moving forward with plans to reduce drug harm and save lives in North Richmond. In 2017, following the large number of Victorian lives lost to drug-related overdoses, the government announced it would be trialling a medically supervised injecting room (MSIR) at the North Richmond Community Health (NRCH) site, on Lennox Street in Richmond.

The department has been working closely with MSIR Expert Advisory Group to inform the development of regulations and internal management protocols for the room. The group has broad membership, including experts in the alcohol and other drug sector, and in community safety, regulation, and other disciplines.

The internal refurbishment for the transitional facility is expected to begin in April 2018 and finish in mid-2018. It is expected to continue at that location until mid-2019 when all operations will move to a purpose-built facility to provide more capacity for the services that link people to the treatment, rehabilitation and support they need.

The department is establishing a Gateway Services Reference Group to consider ways to improve service coordination for clients, and increase access to and engagement with local services. The membership will include broad representation from the AOD health, mental health and homelessness sectors, as well as Aboriginal community representatives, legal, women’s and family violence services.


Drug Rehabilitation Plan – update

The recently announced Drug Rehabilitation Plan provides an additional $87 million to continue to address drug harms. While many initiatives outlined in the Plan are in consultation and planning stages, there has been considerable progress in relation to the delivery of:

  • 100 new residential rehabilitation beds – the Victorian Government is delivering 100 additional adult residential rehabilitation beds to help more Victorians access treatment and reduce the impact of alcohol and other drugs on our local communities. As part of the expansion in 2018, a new service for people with co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health needs (dual diagnosis) will be delivered through Bendigo Health and Western Health.
  • 28-day withdrawal and rehabilitation beds – eight intensive rehabilitation beds will open at Turning Point, Eastern Health, in the coming months, as part of a new model to stabilise an extra 100 complex clients a year and reduce hospital readmissions.

Visit the residential treatment page for factsheets about the 100 bed expansion, including the new dual diagnosis service.

Visit the Victorian Government website for more information about the Drug Rehabilitation Plan


2017-18 State Budget commitments – update

Stage 3 of the Victorian Government’s Ice Action Plan focuses on expanding access to vital treatment services for members of the community. Below is an update on the services being delivered as part of Stage 3:

  • Additional drug treatment services for parents within the child protection system – service delivery has commenced alongside ongoing efforts to facilitate communication and collaboration between key agencies and to assist workers to understand their role and service expectations.
  • Risk of Overdose initiative – service delivery has commenced, with providers in each catchment now delivering services.
  • Expanding alcohol and other drug treatment services for people with mandatory treatment conditions – services have commenced and will provide increased assessment capacity for an additional 960 clients; embedded capacity in the HiROADS program for over 130 high risk offenders; additional counselling for up to 1000 clients; and increased brokerage capacity to meet excess demand.
  • More access to family violence expertise through mental health and drugs services – Phase One is well underway with specialist Family Violence Capacity Building Advisors now operating until the end of June 2019. A selection process is currently underway for Phase Two with successful providers to be announced shortly and are expected to start operating from July 2018.
  • Alcohol and other drug treatment for Aboriginal Victorians – consistent with the government's emphasis on self-determination, this initiative is currently being developed in close collaboration with the Aboriginal community, including strong engagement to identify community needs and decide on appropriate models of care.

Forensic update

Work is underway to embed the Collaborative Practice Framework trialled in October 2017 in Coolaroo and Bendigo. The trial brought together staff from the local Community Correctional Services (CCS) and AOD providers to enhance collaborative practice and information sharing. The trial received overwhelmingly positive feedback, demonstrating substantial changes in collaborative practice and enhanced relationships between the sectors, and a desire to maintain these relationships.

The KickStart 42 hour group criminogenic program trial also began in October 2017. Caraniche, the successful provider has overseen an average program completion rate of 74% across four programs. As of March 2018, the program is expanding to the North West, East, and South East across three other providers. A structured individual counselling option will be rolled out late April 2018; and a KickStart 24 hour group, and associated structured individual counselling program are being developed for commencement in July 2018. The KickStart trial will run until the end of June 2019 and will be independently evaluated.


Pharmacotherapy Review

Five Pharmacotherapy Area-Based Networks (Networks) were established in 2013-14 to achieve a range of objectives including improving access to pharmacotherapy treatment for clients, supporting prescribers and dispensers, and increasing practitioner numbers.

A project will shortly commence to assess the effectiveness of the Networks in supporting pharmacotherapy providers and obtaining positive outcomes for clients.


Other interesting news

  • Mark your calendars:  VAADA will host the next Service Providers conference on 1 June 2018 at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne. Further details on this event will be provided soon.
  • The department has asked Turning Point to revise the Withdrawal Guidelines, and these will be available by 1 June 2018.
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