ReCord: ReGen's April 2014 eUpdate.
This issue: Updates on our methamphetamine Innovation Seminar, changes to our withdrawal services and physical infrastructure, training opportunities, consumer participation, advocacy updates, and other news.
UnitingCare ReGen
Drug Action Week 2013

Welcome to the ReCord - ReGen's regular eUpdate

Methamphetamine-related harms for individuals, families and our wider communities have been the subject of much recent debate in Victoria and nationally. Much of this debate has been characterised by pessimism about treatment options and a sense of desperation for a ‘solution’ to the problems associated with methamphetamine dependence. Our latest Innovation Seminar addressed what is known about the impacts of methamphetamine use and what service providers can do to develop appropriate responses.

While there is often a perception that service providers are unprepared for the particular needs of people who use methamphetamine, our own experience has shown that existing service models provide a solid basis for effective treatment programs. Our ‘Step-up, Step-down’ model for methamphetamine withdrawal is still in its early stages, but provides a good example of how listening to consumers, making small changes and adopting a flexible approach to treatment planning and delivery can help keep people in treatment and support improved outcomes for them and their families.

While we’re waiting for the outcome of the recommissioning process for Victorian AOD treatment services, it’s important that we keep looking ahead to the new and emerging challenges that will face the sector and the communities we serve.

This ReCord includes: Updates on our methamphetamine Innovation Seminar, changes to our withdrawal services and physical infrastructure, training opportunities, consumer participation and advocacy updates, along with a (brief) round up of the latest thinking in AOD from Australia and overseas.

Laurence Alvis
CEO – UnitingCare ReGen

 

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Update on our services

Innovation in action – methamphetamine treatment
This year’s Innovation Seminar attracted a large and diverse audience for discussion of the impacts of methamphetamine use and what service providers can do to support the individuals and families affected. Assoc Prof Nicole Lee’s keynote on what we know about effective approaches to methamphetamine treatment and our discussion of ReGen’s ‘Step-up, Step-down’ model for methamphetamine withdrawal gave practical examples that could be readily adopted by a range of service providers. Bill Parasidis’ presentation gave a unique insight into the experience of methamphetamine use and treatment and the panel Q&A session addressed many of the key issues affecting the AOD, mental health, family and wider community services sector in Victoria.
You can see the video from the event on our YouTube channel or hear Nicole’s radio interview for the 774 Drive program. Speakers’ Powerpoint slides also are available on our SlideShare page.

Improving our withdrawal services
As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure our services meet community needs, we now have two beds at Curran Place (ReGen’s adult residential withdrawal service) allocated for Aboriginal consumers. We have made the changes in partnership with VAHS to improve the accessibility of withdrawal services from within Aboriginal communities, particularly those affected by methamphetamine use.
The impact of these changes will be considered in our external evaluation of our ‘Step-up, Step-down’ model for methamphetamine withdrawal. Thanks to the Victorian Department of Health for providing the funding for this study of a promising model of practice.

Strengthening Victoria’s AOD workforce
Are you (or your colleagues) considering professional development activities this year? Our 2014 program of competency based training is now well underway. See our training calendar for details on the units of First Aid, AOD and Mental Health competency that we are delivering this year.

Getting the basics right
It’s important to get the basics right to create a safe and welcoming environment for our consumers. For some time, we’ve recognised our toilet/shower facilities as being one area where we could significantly improve consumers’ experience of our services. Fortunately, funding attached to our new Torque program enabled us to undertake a major upgrade and we’re very pleased with the results. It’s been pleasing to hear that our consumers are too.
You can see pictures of the new facilities on our Facebook page.

Supporting international harm reduction
Having collected staff and consumer donations to support harm reduction projects in South East Asia, we have provided some very modest assistance to SWING, a peer-led organisation working to reduce harm and promote health amongst sex workers in Thailand. Our donation goes towards SWING’s work supporting HIV-positive sex-workers without health insurance and who cannot afford HIV treatment.
To find out more about SWING (or support their work) see their website.

 
Find more news on our programs
Working together
Consumer Participation

The latest edition of ReSpect (our Consumer Participation update) is out now. It highlights the variety of opportunities our consumers have to contribute their experience to our ongoing efforts to improve our services and keep them accountable. It also provides examples of recent consumer advocacy, including at the Innovation Seminar (see above) and through our consumer blog.
We have three new entries on the blog. They highlight both the challenges faced by the people who use our services and the remarkable changes they are able to achieve, with the right support. It was great to see Olive’s story being picked up recently by DrugScope in the UK as part of their daily news update.
Please subscribe for future editions of ReSpect.

 
Read more on Consumer Participation
Drug Action Week
Advocacy in action

It was encouraging to see a strong response from the Victorian AOD and broader health sector to some concerning Herald Sun coverage in February of the proposed introduction of needle and syringe vending machines in Melbourne. Our own response (including links to the offending coverage and subsequent AOD sector media releases) was published on the Croakey blog (the health blog of the Crikey website).
We were invited to be a panellist in VibeWire’s #breakinggood Twitter forum as part of the organisation’s February discussion of AOD-related matters. The forum provided a great opportunity to reach a new audience with our advocacy and hear the voices of young people in debate about AOD use, treatment and policy.
We marked International Women’s Day in a couple of ways this year. On the day itself, we released a series of AOD messages about the individual, social and systemic challenges that women face. We followed this up with a lunch and three terrific speakers on issues affecting women's safety and the need for more systemic supports for women (and their children) whose safety is threatened by partners, healthworkers or homelessness. You can see photos from the event on our Facebook page.

 
See more of our advocacy work
Working with us

ReGen is a great place to work.

Keep an eye on our employment page for upcoming vacancies in the new year or more detail on working conditions at ReGen. We’ll also be notifying our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn followers of new positions.

 
Find out more about working at ReGen
Interesting links from Australia and around the world

The following are a selection of links to recent AOD research and media coverage we have curated on our Scoop.it page:
View our collection of recent media articles

Over to you

You can support our work by donating, supporting our advocacy on social media, or doing your own. Our position papers and supporting evidence can be a useful resource if you’re looking into a key AOD issue such as Harm Reduction or Recovery Oriented Practice.

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