New Training Program To Support The Region’s Response To Ice

Tuesday, 13 June 2017
A new training program to support health workers manage clients who use ice is being delivered in Portland.

The training is being provided in partnership between Penington Institute and Portland District Health.

The program is called "Injecting ice in the Country" healthier approaches and was delivered at PDH on June 8.

Ice, the crystalline form of methamphetamine, is causing increasing problems in regional Victoria dramatically affecting users, their families and friends, and communities.

Penington Institute CEO John Ryan said Although ice is most commonly smoked, a growing number of people inject the potent stimulant drug. This type of use has particular implications for mental and physical health. As the police say, we can't arrest our way out of this problem, meaning the health sector needs to be first responder when it comes to reducing drug use and drug harms.

People who inject ice are at the more serious end of the drug use spectrum, and frontline workers face significant challenges when providing services to them.

With ice-related ambulance attendances in regional Victoria growing rapidly (from 94 in 2011/12 to 467 in 2014/15) the release of the training and resources will help reduce the burden of ice related problems.

Funded by the Victorian Government as part of the state’s Ice Action Plan, the aim of the training and the associated resources is to enhance the skills, knowledge and confidence of frontline workers in rural and regional needle and syringe programs (NSP).

Mr Ryan said the Institute had developed new videos, factsheets and training for NSP staff so that they can better respond to ice use.

The education campaign, called Injecting ice in the Country – Healthier Approaches covers themes identified by rural and regional frontline workers as areas they wanted to learn more about, Mr Ryan said.

“The videos present the views of NSP and other health experts about how they manage issues in their own workplaces.”

Topics range from What is ice? to Ice intoxication and withdrawal and the physical and psychological effects of ice use.

Portland District Health Director of Primary and Aged Care Fiona Heenan said training frontline staff was an important part of the local response to the problem of ice.

Project Lead from Penington Institute, Crios O’Mahony, who is delivering the training, said it helps workers develop some practical strategies for meeting the needs of clients in local communities.

NSP workers have many competing priorities so this kind of practical guidance and advice is invaluable in supporting the critical work they do as NSP workers, he said.

This training and these resources will help workers to better understand ice use in the community.

The topics cover injecting ice use in the country, engaging NSP clients, safer injecting and harm reduction and physical and psychological impacts of ice use.

Penington Institute also has a resource for the public wanting to know more about ice:

About needle and syringe programs

NSPs are an essential part of Australia’s health system. The evidence around their effectiveness is well established – it is estimated that for every one dollar spent on NSPs, four dollars are saved in direct health care costs (for example from the blood-borne viruses prevented). The full return on investment to the community is $27 saved for every one dollar spent on NSP, including the saved productivity of prevented illnesses.

NSPs are confidential and non-judgemental places where, in addition to obtaining sterile injecting equipment, clients can access:

-       Information on the health risks associated with injecting.

-       Advice on safe injecting practices to reduce the risk of blood-borne virus transmission including HIV and hepatitis C.

-       Safe disposal advice and equipment.

-       Referral to other health and welfare services.

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