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Hi all, 

Spring has sprung! Thank you to all those who participated and promoted International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) on 31 August 2019. We commemorated, honoured and celebrated not only the lives lost to overdose, but the many dedicated Victorians who, like IOAD’s founder Sally J Finn, work every day to increase the health and wellbeing of people who use alcohol and other drugs. You may be interested to know that in addition to distributing IOAD badges and resources, the department partnered with Cohealth to provide overdose response training to build staff capacity to recognise and respond to an overdose, including naloxone administration. 

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

Michael West, Assistant Director, Drug Policy and Reform

2019 National Alcohol and Drugs Award winners

We congratulate all winners of the recent National Alcohol and Drug Award, including: 
  • North Richmond Community Health, Reduction of Harm Award
  • Craig Holloway, First Australians Award
  • Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC): Peer Workforce Development Program, Treatment and Support Award

The awards acknowledge the many passionate people who work tirelessly to improve alcohol and drug services in Victoria. We thank you for your dedication, commitment and partnership.

The Power of Words: a practical guide

The Power of Words

Stigma is a common and complex problem for people who use alcohol and other drugs. The World Health Organization has ranked illegal drug dependence as the most stigmatised health condition globally, with alcohol dependence listed at number four.

There’s power in language. By focusing on people, rather than their use of alcohol and other drugs, and by choosing words that are welcoming and inclusive, professionals working with people who use alcohol and other drugs can reduce the impact of stigma and improve health outcomes. 

The Power of Words contains evidence-based advice on using non-stigmatising language, and features an easy-to-navigate, colour-coded directory of alternative words and phrases to suit a range of common scenarios.

The Power of Words was developed by Alcohol and Drug Foundation in collaboration with Association of Participating Service Users, Harm Reduction Victoria, Penington Institute and the department. 

Larger supervised injecting room now operating

Since the Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR) opened at North Richmond Community Health (NRCH) on 30 June 2018, more than 3,400 clients have registered to use the facility. Staff have responded to more than 1,800 overdoses, many of which may otherwise have been fatal or resulted in serious injury.

Larger supervised injecting room now operating

The MSIR connects people who inject drugs with vital health and social support services to help make a lasting positive impact on people’s lives. In the first 12 months of operation out of the transitional facility, staff provided over 5,082 on-site health and social services to registered clients and 1,393 referrals to co-located services and clinics, and external services, including: health promotion, wound care, blood-borne virus treatment, dental and primary care, AOD treatment, mental health support, family violence support, social welfare assistance and material aid.
The MSIR has extended its operating hours since moving into the larger facility on 7 July 2019. Better integrated with NRCH’s AOD program, including the needle and syringe program and overdose response initiatives, the new facility provides more room and more opportunity to work with clients in a supervised and multidisciplinary health service environment. Staff at the larger facility are supervising about 300 injections each day. The department is working closely with NRCH and gateway services so that clients can experience the full benefit of accessing this integrated service model. 

An independent panel of experts will review the trial and report in 2020.

New Gippsland residential rehabilitation service nearing completion

In June 2018 the Victorian Government announced its support of the HOPE Restart Centre near Bairnsdale, East Gippsland, and commited to provide operational funding for 30-beds from its commencement in late 2019. 

These extra State-wide beds will create more treatment services, reduce pressure on the system, and improve access to treatment for individuals, families and communities who may struggle to attend community-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation services. 

The Hope Restart Centre will complement AOD services already located in Outer Gippsland and generate employment opportunities for health workers and support service workers in the area.

Building is well under way at the new facility and is expected to be completed in late 2019, with the first residents accessing the service shortly thereafter. 

New Gippsland rehabilitation centre
New Gippsland rehabilitation centre
New Gippsland rehabilitation centre

The service is situated on a 15-acre property 6 kilometres from Bairnsdale, at 455 Princess Highway, Lucknow.

Odyssey House Victoria will be the service provider in partnership with the Hope Restart Centre.

New forensic-specific AOD training course

As part of the implementation of the new Forensic Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Service Delivery Model and Victoria’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Strategy 2018 2022, three new state-funded forensic specific training courses for alcohol and other drug (AOD) clinicians have become available in 2019, and will continue to be delivered on a registration of interest basis.  

Registrations of interest are open for Caraniche’s one-day Advanced AOD Forensics course. This is a clinical face to-face training course targeted at senior AOD clinicians working with forensic clients presenting with multiple complexities, including personality disorders, severe mental health issues, and other co morbidities which present in addition to significant AOD use. 

This course will be complemented by up to three optional refresher sessions, available to all clinicians who have taken the course. The refresher sessions will be scheduled based on nominations from course participants. Depending on their availability and interests, sessions might be either a case study focused exercise, or a deep-dive into one of the topics covered by the course. 

If you are an experienced Forensic AOD Clinician and are interested in building your knowledge and skills in working with highly complex forensic clients, please register your interest

Responses from the registrations of interest will be used by Caraniche to guide selection for participation in the course. Although all AOD Clinicians are welcome to register their interest, the course contains a number of selection criteria targeted at senior AOD clinicians working with complex forensic clients which will need to be met in order to be eligible for the course. 

Training dates and locations will be scheduled based on the availability and locations of successful applicants, as informed by the registrations of interest. 

We encourage you to share this information within your organisations. If you require any further information on the Advanced AOD Forensics course, please contact or

Other interesting news

Translated fact sheets on contraception and abortion are now available in a range of community languages at the Better Health Channel and Health Translations. Please pass this on to your networks to inform women, their friends and family and health professionals to assist them in making informed decisions about their reproductive health. This initiative is part of implementing the Victorian Government’s first-ever Women’s sexual and reproductive health plan “Key Priorities” (2017-2020) plan. 

Follow the Better Health Channel on social media to keep up to date with the latest health information.


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