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Why alcohol and other drug treatments are priority services

Alcohol and other drug treatment services are priority areas for NWMPHN. Here’s why.

YSAS workers from The Zone, from left to right: David Beech, Primary Health Worker; Erin Burzacott, Acting Team Leader Day Program and Primary Health Service; Anyaak Abiel, Senior Practitioner; Menasik Dewanyang, Youth Worker; Slam Ross, Youth Worker.

Data gathered for our most recent Health Needs Assessment reveals that, averaged out, residents in 5 of the 13 Local Government Areas (LGAs) that comprise North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network’s catchment have a lifetime risk of alcohol-induced harm that is higher than the Victorian average.

The risk of alcohol-related harm is not evenly spread demographically or geographically. 64.2 per cent of adults in Moonee Valley have an increased lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm, for instance, while some other LGAs in the NWMPHN region have a risk lower than the 59.5 per cent state average.

Alcohol consumption across the region contributes to mental health issues, violence, crime, accidents, thoughts of self-harm and suicide, harms to children, and domestic and family violence. At an individual level, alcohol use can lead to severe acute and chronic harms, including injuries, psychological distress, cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular and liver disease.

The inner urban areas of Melbourne, Yarra and Maribyrnong continue to show indicators of comparatively very high rates of illicit substance use and harms.

In 2019-2021 NWMPHN’s region

  • accounted for 6,196 illicit drug related ambulance events and 3,480 attendances involving pharmaceutical drugs
  • four in 10,000 Brimbank residents were treated for pharmaceutical drugs-related episodes
  • 53 per 10,000 Brimbank residents, 51 per 10,000 Merri-bek residents and 46 per 10,000 Hume residents were treated for illicit drugs-related episodes. The Victorian average is 38
  • an estimated 1,285 ambulance events occurred that related to methamphetamine use, accounting for 20 per cent of illicit drug related attendances in the catchment
  • accounted for around 35% of all Victorian ambulance attendances for crystal methamphetamine-related events
  • recorded 13,658 offences for drug possession in 2020, according to the Crime Statistics Agency Victoria in 2021.

How can we help?

People with problematic AOD use, and those closest to them, experience a range of related health and social issues.

We focus on commissioning AOD services that prioritise populations of need, in locations of need. These locations include:

  • Melton
  • Brimbank
  • Hume
  • Merri-bek
  • Maribyrnong
  • Darebin
  • Yarra
  • Werribee

Much of our work concerns population groups recognised as being at most risk of adverse outcomes. These include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers
  • people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness
  • LGBTIQ+ communities
  • young people
  • people who have experienced incarceration or care in institutions
  • people with coexisting AOD and mental health concerns.

Our programs targeting at risk populations

  • The Zone

    The Zone is an AOD intersectional care coordination program for young people and their families. It is operated by the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), Odyssey House Victoria and Drummond Street Services.

    The service helps clients change the way they think about the substance use and find ways to improve their health and wellbeing.

    This program assists young people, families and friends who are experiencing concerns related to alcohol or other drug use. It offers:

    • one-to-one support
    • group work support
    • virtual support (telehealth)
    • day stay rehabilitation.

    Target populations: Young people (12 to 25 years old) and their families and significant others experiencing harms associated with alcohol and/or other drug use. It focuses on addressing the needs across diverse communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, African diaspora, Pasifika culturally and linguistically diverse people, LGBTIQ people, people with comorbid AOD and mental health concerns, people experiencing homelessness, refugees and people seeking asylum.

    Locations: Brimbank, Darebin, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Macedon Ranges, Maribyrnong, Melton, Merri-bek, Moonee Valley, Moorabool, Wyndham

  • Muslim Youth and Family Program

    The Muslim Youth and Family (MYAF) program provides culturally safe and appropriate AOD services to multicultural youth, adults and their families in Glenroy and surrounding areas.

    It is a collaboration between Odyssey House Victoria, the Self-Help Addiction Resource Centre, the Salvation Army, Youth Support and Advocacy Service, and MyCentre.

    The program employs staff from a Muslim background to connect cultural and religious aspect to the work proving a holistic approach to AOD support by:

    • delivering an accessible service response that provides cultural and religious sensitive AOD treatment through site-based and outreach approach
    • becoming a reference and resource for AOD mainstream services working with Muslim clients experiencing AOD issues
    • building and strengthening relationships with aligning services to meet the intersectional needs of clients, including physical health, spirituality health, family health and Mental health of the client
    • providing a safe space for young people and families to address drugs and alcohol concerns, including health promotion for people to address drugs and alcohol concerns.

    Services provided include:

    • individual and family counselling
    • case management, care planning and coordination
    • brief interventions
    • group work
    • outreach support
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)

    Since 2017, NWMPHN has commissioned the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) to provide an alcohol and other drug support program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    This activity provides culturally appropriate AOD treatment for Aboriginal people who require treatment and support due to substance misuse and dependence. Care teams work to improve clients’ wellbeing through counselling and harm minimisation practices.

    To boost accessibility, clients can refer themselves, or be referred by a GP, health professional or other agency.

    The program provides:

    • assessment, treatment and monitoring
    • brief interventions
    • counselling
    • pre- and post-rehabilitation support
    • relapse prevention
    • harm minimisation
    • outreach
    • education
    • withdrawal management
    • group work
    • connection to other services and social supports, such as housing or justice.

    VAHS collaborates with other Aboriginal community services and mainstream services such as St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Austin Health, Northern Hospital and the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), to ensure clients have their complex needs met in a holistic and culturally safe manner.

    The AOD Program is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the NWMPHN region.