The National Alcohol and Drug Foundation has named North Richmond Community Health as the winner for Excellence in the Reduction of Harm in the 2017 National Alcohol and other Drug Excellence and Innovation awards.
“Our community experiences a great breadth of challenges which require unique and innovative responses,” says Penny Francis, who manages North Richmond Community Health’s Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) team.
“We are continually seeking new ways to reduce harm and stigma for the community we serve. We’re very proud to receive this award, and even more proud of our work with our community.”
The award comes after strong support for North Richmond Community Health from other organisations. In a letter of support, Fitzroy Legal Service’s executive officer Claudia Fatone wrote:
“The North Richmond Community Health AOD Program workers have an intimate knowledge of the legal and non-legal issues facing people who use drugs. Our clients will engage with the AOD workers, disclosing pressing issues to the staff because they are respected, trusted and accessible…
“Each and every AOD worker cares for and respects the people they see every day and, as a result, individuals who use drugs listen to and engage with them.”
Odyssey House wrote:
“The AOD program at North Richmond Community Health is recognised for its provision of non-judgemental, cost-free and innovative responses to support the health and safety of some of Victoria’s most marginalised people who use drugs. The program has been directly responsible for saving lives.”
North Richmond Community Health provides vital and groundbreaking services for its community. These include a needle syringe program, an outreach program and overdose response. North Richmond Community Health also provides training for community members to distribute and collect equipment, educate other community members, and respond to overdoses.
These programs are all conducted with careful and thorough consultation with clients, many of whom praise the service.
“This NSP [Needle Syringe Program] is invaluable. It provides a safe and friendly atmosphere and service. For those of us out here on the perimeter of society, it feels not so lonely/hopeless with these guys around. Everytime I come by, they are kind and helpful,” wrote one client.
“These people here are amazing they treat us as normal people and are far from being judgemental. They keep us safe and because of this service we don’t have to act like trash,” wrote another.
Despite the work of North Richmond Community Health’s team, clients and community members experience significant hardship and disadvantage. North Richmond Community Health supports the trial for a supervised injecting facility in the area to further minimise harms and reduce overdose deaths.
“While it’s very rewarding to see our incredibly hard working team receive national recognition, we know some parts of our community are at risk of injury, illness and death. We’re committed to doing everything we can to change that,” says Francis.
For interviews or further information, contact Jessie Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 9418 9856.