ReGen celebrates Victorian Public Healthcare Awards win (19/11/15)

Melbourne, VIC, 19th November 2015 – UnitingCare ReGen, the lead alcohol and other drug treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania, today celebrated its win at the 2015 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards.

The agency’s work developing innovative, evidence based responses to methamphetamine dependence took out the ‘Improving health, safety and wellbeing’ award. The other finalists in this category were Monash Health’s Wellness and Recovery Centre: a centre of excellence in the treatment of eating disorders and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Monash Doctors.

Responding to the award announcement, ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said:

This is welcome recognition for our work on improving treatment responses for individuals and families affected by methamphetamine use. While there are genuine concerns for frontline service providers in responding to methamphetamine intoxication, there is much that can be done to improve the immediate safety and wellbeing of health workers and the people who use their services.

Much public discussion of the challenges for service providers in responding to people who use methamphetamine assumes that they are violent and uncontrollable. Stigmatising media coverage and public health campaigns do little to improve the accessibility of essential health services for people who use methamphetamine or support informed responses by service providers.

Our experience has demonstrated that, when services are welcoming and aware of particular consumer needs, making small changes to established service models can significantly improve their accessibility and effectiveness for people who use methamphetamine.

The success in achieving sustained behavioural changes amongst people who use methamphetamine has been based on a stepped approach to identifying individual and family needs and developing evidence based responses in partnership with consumers and external evaluators.

This project has involved people and programs right across ReGen. I would particularly like to thank all our staff for their commitment to ensuring that we are providing the most effective services for our consumers, especially those working in our Adult withdrawal unit who told us back in 2012 that our treatment processes in withdrawal were not working for people undertaking methamphetamine withdrawal.

I would also like to acknowledge the staff at the Department of Health and Human Services who supported us in changing AOD treatment practices and provided resources so that we could undertake and evaluate the methamphetamine trials.

There is always more that we can do: to improve our own practice and support integrated responses to methamphetamines and other emerging drug types across the Victorian healthcare system. We appreciate the opportunities we’ve had to share our learning to support methamphetamine policy and program development and look forward to continuing to contribute to improving future practice.

The other two finalists in our category both demonstrate the importance of taking a holistic approach to consumer, workforce and community wellbeing. We need more such examples to improve our responses to the complex and interrelated factors that contribute to AOD and mental health concerns.

I congratulate all tonight’s finalists and look forward to seeing how their examples contribute to future improvements in Victorian healthcare.