Health approach is key to supporting communities

Released on 15th February 2016

cohealth supports the call for a holistic response in addressing the underlying causes of problematic substance use with a health based approach.

cohealth Chief Executive, Lyn Morgain said, ‘A comprehensive approach from prevention and harm reduction to treatment is required to address the impacts of substance use on family, community, education and employment.’

‘cohealth supports the call on state and commonwealth governments to commit to a comprehensive approach that balances law enforcement with the availability of necessary health service’, Ms. Morgain said.

‘At present there are insufficient treatment services and people are not receiving the care they require. This is even more acute in relation to CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse), LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) communities’.

‘GPs are the first point of call for health issues. They, and other health professionals, need to be able to respond to drug and alcohol issues but they need specialist support and training to do so’.

Harm reduction has been the bi-partisan cornerstone of drug policy in Australia since the 1980s. It sees drug use as a health issue for people and the communities where they live. Harm reduction emphasises education through support and health promotion, and the provision of clean injecting equipment through needle and syringe programs to avoid transmission of blood borne diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV.

cohealth’s, Health Works program is a non-judgmental primary health care service with experienced staff available. Treatment services available include counseling, withdrawal support, pharmacotherapy and specialist support such as sexual health services and liver clinics.

Health Works offers information about safe drug use, referrals to other supporting services and provides clean injecting equipment through needle exchange programs (NSP).

Programs such as cohealth’s NSPs, Health Works in Footscray and Innerspace in Collingwood, are regarded as one of the most successful ever public health interventions and continue to deliver excellent value for every dollar spent.[ 1]


[1] Commonwealth of Australia, 2002. Return on investment in needle and syringe programs in Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging.

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