Alcohol and other drug services to support those most at risk

  19 November 2021  NWMPHN   

New alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services have been commissioned by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs.

The move follows a rigorous evaluation process and is worth $4.7 million over two years.  

Thorne Harbour Health (THH) and an alliance led by the Youth Support & Advocacy Service (YSAS) will be service providers for the region. 

The organisations were contracted after a tender process launched by NWMPHN. The commissioning approach and tender requirements were co-designed by a Consumer Advisory Group (CAG), including people with lived expertise through having been affected by AOD use, and a Subject Matter Expert Reference Group (SME) with clinical expertise and insight on contemporary evidence-informed practice into AOD models of care. 

Thorne Harbour Health will establish an AOD treatment response aimed at LGBTIQ+ people and the alliance led by YSAS, which includes Odyssey House Victoria and Drummond Street Services, will have an intersectional focus targeting young people and their families. 

NWMPHN funds a range of AOD services across a catchment of more than 1.6 million people, including some of Victoria’s most at-risk communities. The decision to revitalise the roll-out of AOD treatment services followed a review of population health data and consultation with clinical experts and people with lived experience.  

Portrait of Jag Dhaliwal
Jag Dhaliwal, North Western Melbourne. Photo: Ian Currie

The review found a need to substantially refresh and bolster support for people at increased risk of harm from substance use, and in particular people who are at greatest risk of missing out on access to services, or whose needs may not be met by the current service system. With their family and LGBTIQ+ focus, THH and YSAS will join 10 other service providers which already embrace other communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse communities including refugees and people seeking asylum, and people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

“Over the past few years, Melbourne’s northern and western areas have changed a great deal,” said NWMPHN’s Executive Director, Service Development and Reform, Jag Dhaliwal.

“There are extensive growth corridors extending to the suburban margins, and substantially changed demographic profiles for many of the inner-urban areas. Along with these changes have come very significant shifts in the size and locations of vulnerable populations. Our mandate, as a primary health network, is to ensure that these people are supported, serviced and seen. 

“We are confident that Thorne Harbour Health and the YSAS-led alliance have the deep experience and networks needed to make a real difference to communities that face significant hurdles.” 

The NWMPHN catchment covers 13 Local Government Areas and extends from Gisborne in the north, Preston in the inner north-east, Bacchus Marsh in the west and Werribee in the south-west. 

“Thorne Harbour Health is excited to expand the reach of our Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services to meet the needs of our LGBTIQ+ communities in the north and west of Melbourne,” said Simon Ruth, THH Chief Executive Officer.  

“We know that our targeted services are highly effective at providing a culturally safe space for our communities to get the support they need.” 

Andrew Bruun, YSAS CEO, commented: “YSAS welcomes this opportunity to work closely with NWMPHN and our partners Drummond St and Odyssey House Victoria in providing effective and accessible drug treatment for the local young people and families.” 

Mr Dhaliwal added: “We look forward to enabling and working with all our AOD service providers in the work that they do, to ensure community needs are met.”  

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