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A community response to alcohol and other drug issues in the City of Yarra

Notes from our October 2021 meeting

A recording of the session isn’t available. 

Welcome and introductions to new managers  

  • Dean Rogut Program Facilitator AOD Response North @Innerspace cohealth • Chris Newland North Richmond Precinct Manager Department of Families, Fairness and  Housing 
  • Mark Ritch Housing Manager Richmond Department of Families, Fairness and Housing  

Service update: Nico Clark MSIR /NRCHC 

MSIR service impacted by Covid safe practices/infection control – staff weary of full PPE and barriers  to service user engagement clients /service users weary of check in and mask wearing and social distancing requirements. Some testy exchanges around proper mask wearing. So far no Tier 1 experiences, and service has remained operational throughout although service use is down. Availability of health care staff an issue. Nico wonders if there can be some staff sharing across organizations. 

Guest presentation Jane Morton VAADA  

Implementation of the Mental Health Royal Commission recommendations – update 

The Royal Commission into Mental Health in Victoria 2020 recognized the high prevalence of  coexisting mental health and substance use issues and recommended that “People living with substance use or addiction and moderate/complex mental illness will receive integrated care through Mental Health and Wellbeing Services” 

VAADA have been engaged by DoH over a two year period to provide sector input into the  development of an Integrated AOD and Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework. The first stage of  this has been conducting a sector consultation on a DoH consultation paper on such a framework. 

Consultation information available here

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Comments: 

Kevan (NEXUS) observed that front line community mental health workers haven’t been as engaged  as AOD in the consultation/design process of the integrated system to date.

Concern was expressed that AOD services are just going to be inserted into the community mental health and wellbeing services, noting that the tenders for the first 6 facilities that have been fast  tracked for implementation in 2022 have been let without the Framework being finalized. 

Presentation from Rachel Powning General Manager Neighborhood Justice Centre, also present  from NJC Mathew Willis and Hieng Lim. 

Deferred prosecution Pilot Program 

Based on Checkpoint Durham UK model  

18 Month pilot within a 2 year project. Funding through DOJCS (Building Safer Communities Fund)  

Led by North Richmond Community Health Center with partners Victoria Police, NJC, and Yarra City  Council 

Individually tailored “offender management Program” by way of “contract” between individual and  police, supports addressing underlying issues such as meanly health, housing or alcohol or drug use  

Program Navigator Role – central point of contact for police and participants – provides case  management and care coordination. This position is currently being recruited by North Richmond Community Health Centre 

City of Yarra AOD issues related update 

  • Steph Ashby Senior Planner Community Health and Safety. Social Strategy and Community  Development 

Health and Wellbeing Plan within Council Plan which is currently being updated.

Notes from EO YDHF : Explanatory excerpt from City of Yarra website: 

“The Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (Health Plan) is the strategic document that  identifies health and wellbeing priorities for the City of Yarra. 

At City of Yarra, our Health Plan is integrated into the Council Plan. Council’s Health Plan for the  upcoming 2021–2025 period is currently under development.  

From the link above the following can be downloaded:  

  • current 2017-2021 Health Plan/current Council Plan. 
  • Yarra’s Health and Wellbeing profile 2020 

The Health and Wellbeing profile presents a snapshot of data relating to health and wellbeing in  Yarra. It presents demographic data as well as specific indicators related to health and to the wider  social determinants of health.  

The Profile represents an evidence base for the purposes of planning, implementation and  evaluation for Council and other organizations in Yarra.

  • COVID-19 impact supplement 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have serious impacts on health and wellbeing. 

The COVID-19 impact supplement provides a time-limited, high level overview of the latest available evidence on the impacts of the pandemic on health and wellbeing. This supplement provides an  evidence base to inform adaptation and recovery planning for Yarra, as well as assisting in  identifying areas in need of additional support. 

  • Health and wellbeing snapshots 

These snapshots provide high level summaries of the main themes from the data in the Profile.  These are visually engaging snapshots that can be used across the Yarra community. 

  • Alcohol, tobacco and gambling  
  • Climate crisis and health  
  • Community safety  
  • Cultural diversity  
  • Demographics  
  • Dwellings and households  
  • Gender equality  
  • Health and wellbeing  
  • Healthy eating and active living  
  • Mental wellbeing  
  • Social determinants of health  

The Operational Supplement: Health and Wellbeing Activities (OSHWA) 2021-25 is under  development  

Julia Bennett – Mitrovsky Senior Coordinator Social Strategy and Community Development 

reported on Public Drinking Reference Group and new public drinking local law. Over a 2 year  process there has been extensive consultation and engagement with stakeholders including many  members of the Yarra Drug and Health forum. A new local law is going to Yarra City Council on 5  October 11, 2021 

It is anticipated that the Public Drinking Reference Group would continue as a community reference  group to support monitoring and evaluation if the implementation of the new law. 

New Public Drinking Law Aims to Support, Not Punish the Vulnerable (City of Yarra)

Peter commended the process, noting that although the YDHF hadn’t achieved all it wanted to in having no local law around public drinking, the process of consultation was inclusive and respectful  and the outcomes an improvement on the existing local law. 

Service updates continued: 

Yarra Mental Health Alliance : Kevan provided a brief explanation of the YMHA. Further information available via Mirella Rao Email 

The YMHA invited members to a Mental Health week zoom event tomorrow 5 October 9-30-10-30  featuring Heidi Everett author, composer, mental health advocate in conversation with Philippa  Hemus and Katherine Barling about her recently published memoir My Friend Fox and the role of the  arts in mental health.  

YDHF update 

Bernadette reported that in relation to the YDHF strategic priorities of working with the community  to (1) address sigma and discrimination experienced by people who use drugs and (2) elevating the voice of people who use drugs in the community discourse around drug issues the following: 

  • A process for recruiting two executive group members with lived and living experience to  the YDHF Executive Group is nearly finalized with great interest and candidates. This is a  partnership project with peak groups HR Vic and Association of Participating Service users  (auspiced by SHARC)  
  • YDHF is working as part of the North Richmond Community Capacity Building Initiative  (Social Landlord) work at North Richmond to improve outcomes for the North Richmond  community in leading or facilitating efforts to address drug related issues, including needle  and syringe issues, and the idea of a code of conduct or social compact engendering respectful relationships between housing tenants and service users. 
  • YDHF has hosted forums concerned with highlighting stigma and discrimination issues  including the International Overdose Awareness Day events which are all available on  YouTube at www.ydhf.org.au 
  • There is a google group of communications people supportive of positive communications  and public relations supporting harm reduction and health approached to drug issues • The December YDHF online forum Monday 6 December will celebrate 10 December  International Human Rights Day in general and 12 December International Universal Health  Coverage Day in particular, which has the theme “ Leave No One’s Health Behind: Invest in  health systems for all” The idea is to have the December forum look at the stigma and  discrimination experienced by people who use drugs in accessing the health care that they  need as a human rights issue. YDHF will use the forum to produce social media content to  bring the issue to broader community attention and contribute to raising awareness and  influencing drug policy  

Title: Access to health care for people who use drugs – what I know about this issue, what I think is needed to fix it 

https://ydhf.org.au/events/ydhf-december-community-forum/

There will be a keynote address from Dr Kate Seear Associate Professor , Australian Research  Council Future Fellow Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society La Trobe 

University Co-Editor (with Professor Kylie Valentine), Contemporary Drug Problems Program Lead, Gender Law and Drugs (GLaD) 

And a number of other speakers including our own Adam Willson Outreach Drug Lawyer  with Fitzroy Legal service . 

Notes From Our October 2021 Meeting
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