Public Intoxication Response Service – community and resident info

cohealth has been selected by the Victorian Government to deliver a health-based response to public drunkenness. The new service will include street-based outreach teams, transportation services across metro Melbourne, and a 20-bed support centre in Collingwood.

A member of cohealth's Public Intoxication Response Service team wearing a pink shirt and standing by somebody drinking from a water bottle

A member of cohealth’s Public Intoxication Response Service assisting a member of the public.

Representing a fundamental shift in the way that we as a community respond to public drunkenness, cohealth’s Sobering Service will keep people safe, avoid unnecessary contact with police, and create a safer and more supportive environment for vulnerable members of our community.

After delivering a 12-month trial Sobering Service in the City of Yarra, we saw that providing an on-the-ground health response reduced ambulance callouts and diverted people from emergency departments. We also saw a cross-section of the community respond to the service for support. 

“From young people separated from their friends who are highly intoxicated, people who’ve had one too many after-work drinks, and people who are homeless and alcohol-affected, our service will be for everyone” – Nicole Bartholomeusz, cohealth Chief Executive.

We anticipate that it will be a great comfort to many people knowing that if their loved ones are intoxicated in public there will be a team of health workers to respond and make sure they’re safe. Additionally, the Sobering Service will provide the opportunity to connect people to alcohol and other drug treatment, family violence services, and mental health support if they need it.

Over the coming months we will be confirming what the Service will look like, how it will operate, and the details of the support centre at 3 Cambridge St Collingwood. We look forward to talking with you about the service and listening to your feedback. We also plan to consult with the community about the name of the centre before we open our doors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

From 7 November it will no longer be a crime to be drunk in public. Instead of a police response, people who are intoxicated in public and at heightened risk will be supported by health workers.  

The public intoxication service is available to any person who is intoxicated in public and is at heightened risk due to intoxication, who has no serious physical or mental health issues, who has not committed an offence, and who does not pose a safety risk to themselves or others.  

To be eligible to be taken to cohealth’s sobering centre, a person must have capacity to give consent, and to be able to walk with some assistance. 

The cohealth sobering centre commenced operation on 29 November.

The only signage visible from the street is the service address i.e. ‘3 Cambridge St’ to support discreet service provision. 

In metropolitan Melbourne, there will be two 24/7 fully staffed sobering centres provide a supervised place for people who are intoxicated to stay while they recover from the immediate effects of intoxication.

These facilities will include: 

  • one centre for the general population in Collingwood (operated by cohealth) 
  • one centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in St Kilda (not operated by cohealth) 

In regional locations, there will be on-demand places of safety where outreach teams can support Aboriginal people if they cannot safely return home. 

More info here: Link  

cohealth utilises a network of vehicles to undertake outreach in the community, and, where required, to transport people to the sobering centre. 

Most people that attend the sobering centre are transported via cohealth vehicles under the care and supervision of trained staff. If someone arrives at the centre on foot or independently, we will welcome them inside and provide support and a safe place for the night.  

cohealth’s sobering centre has a 20-bed capacity, but we don’t expect it will be operating at full capacity throughout the week.  

All sobering service responses will be coordinated through a centralised service with a dedicated phone line, which will manage intake, referrals, and the dispatch of outreach services when appropriate, ensuring a streamlined response.  

There is 24/7 security onsite at the sobering centre and CCTV to ensure optimal safety and security. 

cohealth has established a dedicated phone number for residents living in the local area to stay in touch, and a dedicated email address – 


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About us

cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation. We provide essential health and support services in Melbourne’s CBD, inner-north and inner-west, and the east coast of Tasmania.

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