This week the Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley MP, released a new workforce strategy for the alcohol and other drugs sector.  Victoria’s alcohol and other drugs workforce strategy 2018–2022 has been developed to put in place a range of immediate actions to improve the recruitment, retention and skills of the specialist alcohol and other drugs workforce.

This strategy highlights the importance of, and departmental investment in, the AOD peer workforce:

‘The value of peer workers in the AOD sector is immense and often quoted as a necessary part of recovery. People seeking help are less likely to feel judged or stigmatised by those who have a similar experience.’ p 28.

‘Peer workers across the Victorian AOD treatment sector will bridge the gap between intake and admission to treatment and expand options for continuing care and recovery coordination after treatment planning.’ p28.

The strategy specifies that expansion and support of the peer workforce will be supported by the establishment of an AOD peer workforce network. This is to ensure that the peer workforce is sustainable and built on evidence-based practice, and may include facilitating a community of practice of the peer AOD workforce and delivering priority training.

‘The AOD sector needs to further develop and embed the peer workforce within organisations and services and ensure appropriate training and support for peer support workers in these new roles.’ p26.

The strategy also points to exploration of supervision models and practices as part of the Peer Workforce Development program at the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC). This will identify opportunities to apply lessons to clinical supervision for AOD workers that are not in dedicated peer worker roles.

In Victoria, the AOD peer workforce is recognised as an integral part of quality service delivery, with many organisations formalising and integrating peer work into their service. SHARC are delighted to be participating in the expansion and support of the AOD Peer Workforce and witnessing whole sector investment in the discipline.