Each year the Yarra Drug and Health Forum celebrates the achievements of Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) workers in the City of Yarra. The award recognises the contribution that nominees have made and provides a grant for professional development.
YDHF Worker of the Year Award 2019 was awarded to Jen McLachlan from YSAS.
Jen is a truly outstanding Youth Worker. She is dedicated, kind, patient and hard working. She is also incredibly determined, assertive and a fierce advocate for young people and their rights. Jen embodies harm reduction in her practice and always acts with integrity.
Jen has worked for YSAS since 2013, spending most of her time at the Org as an Outreach Worker. Jen empowers the young people she works to have choice and control in their lives as well as assisting them in finding their voice. Jen actively promotes drug education, works holistically and holds young people's safety and well-being as the foundation of her practice.
Congratulations Jen on being recognised for your care, compassion and advocacy for your clients.
Matthew is a Harm Reduction practitioner and Peer Networker with Harm Reduction Victoria & North Richmond Community Health Centre.
Matthew lives on the North Richmond Estate and took on the role of Peer Networker with HRVic’s Peer Network Program in 2014. Matthew is a familiar and friendly face to the drug using community in North Richmond and this has been proven over time with the level of trust and confidence shown to him by People Who Inject Drugs.
This has been evident many times when people have chosen to contact Matthew when things have gone wrong, even though people know to call 000 in the event of an overdose, Matthew is still the first point of call for a lot of people. There have been countless times that Matthew has arrived at the scene of an overdose before the paramedics.
As a first responder, Matthew has administered life saving naloxone on multiple occasions and there have been many times when he has responded without the advantage of naloxone which required him to provide rescue breathing until the ambulance arrived.
Regardless of naloxone being available, Matthew responded to every situation he was called to with professionalism and compassion that only a peer could. In fact Matthew was an amazing peer worker before a peer position ever existed.
He is one of the genuine ‘organic’ peer workers who has been doing it with no recognition for most of his life. Only now is he starting to get some of the acknowledgement that he deserves and more recently he has moved into a paid position with North Richmond Community Health.
Adam Willson is the Outreach Lawyer at Fitzroy Legal Service.
Adam works closely with alcohol and drug agencies such as North Richmond Community Health Centre and cohealth to provide holistic and a harm reduction approach to legal service delivery including community legal education, referral and advice, advocacy and casework.
Adam has fostered strong working relationships with needle exchange and drug outreach workers. In particular he appreciates that his clients
disclose pressing issues to these workers because they are respected, trusted and accessible - for example, walking along Victoria Street daily
to see how individuals are travelling. Adam understands that he inherits this trust on receiving referrals from these agencies.
The referrals from agencies are always individuals with complex legal and non-legal needs facing significant disadvantage without legal advice or representation. Adam genuinely cares for and respects his clients and as a result individuals who use drugs listen to and engage with him. He appreciates the complexity and challenges faced by people who use drugs and is committed to providing high quality legal representation. Adam demonstrates this commitment everyday every day, preparing casework, appearing at court, or delivering legal advice at outreach in the community.
Well done Adam.
Kylie Smith is the NJC's (Neighbourhood Justice Centre's) Senior Koori Justice Worker. This means she works mainly with the Koori Community with the aim of addressing underlying causes of offending through providing a variety of support services to the local Aboriginal Community in Yarra and to Aboriginal visitors of those with a strong connection to the area. Kylie works to provide court support, make referrals, case manage, and support Aboriginal clients on community corrections orders.
Kylie is a strong leader and advocate, who also works with the wider community at large to build social cohesion and capacity. Well respected, Kylie is trusted for her outreach work with community, in the community and at the NJC mainly with clients who are on community correction orders, many of whom have complex needs. She is one of those quiet achievers who work behind the scenes - 'an unsung hero'.
This year the award recipient was Ms Rosie Lew who works for cohealth at the Innerspace Primary Health Care Centre in Collingwood. Rosie was selected for this award because of the dedication that she has shown for over a decade in the delivery of health care services, particularly needles and syringes, to clients who are often street-based and marginalised.
Rosie goes out of her way to be friendly and welcoming to all clients and makes an effort to acknowledge everyone who comes through the door at Innerspace.
Rosie was the initial peer worker when the Healthy Living Clinic started delivering Hep C testing, treatment and support to clients at Innerspace.
Lauren Stuckey (Left in picture) has worked for the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) for 8 years. Initially Lauren worked at the Fitzroy Downstairs Day Program and Primary Health Service. Currently Lauren works as a Youth Drug and Alcohol Assertive Street Outreach Worker, where she supports a number of young people in developing appropriate treatment plans to support them with their complex alcohol and other drug issues.
The award will assist Lauren in completing leadership training and a study tour to Asia where she will visit and engage with drug treatment services, particularly around NSP provision or lack thereof.
Jane Dicka has been employed by Harm Reduction Victoria as a Health Promotion Officer for over 7 years. Jane has a wide range of skills and her ability to engage with a variety of clients, including hard-to-reach clients is one of her major strengths. Jane’s expertise as a workshop facilitator is outstanding and she has a unique ability to convey key learning points in a compelling way. Her most recent achievements in this regard have been workshops with staff and clients of Yarra AOD agencies on first aid and the peer distribution of the overdose prevention drug Naloxone.
Jane will use the award to visit the Danish Drug Users Union (BrugerForeningen) in Copenhagen. On return she will use this information to benefit both the people who use drugs in the City of Yarra and the wider community.
The 2012-2013 winners of the YDHF Worker of the Year Awards are: John Anderson (left) and David Beech.
John Anderson has been working in the AOD sector for the past 11 years. John is one of the unsung heroes of the AOD service provision in Victoria. John is an experienced AOD worker who has a high level of experience and aptitude with clients, both forensic and voluntary. He is someone who will constantly "go the extra mile" for clients, and freely gives of his knowledge of the forensic justice system when consulted by workmate. John will use the funds to complete training in the USA where he will study approaches to case management.
David Beech from Youth Support and Advocacy Service: Since 2005 David has worked in a number of program areas within the City of Yarra. David initially completed a student placement and then found permanent employment with the YSAS residential withdrawal unit. David is now working with the YSAS Day Program and Primary Health Service located in Fitzroy. David is constantly providing young people with the support they need to help reduce the impact of drugs in their lives. David will use the award to help fund his completion of a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs course.
Michael Honeysett is employed at Turning Point as the Needle and Syringe Program worker, however his work and the reasons for this nomination extend beyond this role.
Michael is also a Koori Elder in the Fitzroy/Collingwood area and passionately supports and advocates for the Koori population. Michael is often sought out for advice and support regarding matters concerning the Koori people as well as the most disadvantaged who reside in our community. Michael is often observed to be walking and talking to those living in our community who are very disadvantaged and he not only treats each one with respect but also works hard to assist them to access services to address their individual needs. Michael is certainly a compassionate man who has developed into a well - respected advocate and practitioner within our community. Michael is a flexible person who regularly volunteers his time to a needy cause and contributes greatly to our community.
We are still not fully aware of all the work that Michael does for our community as it often goes unnoticed, which is part of his generous and humble nature.
Congratulations to Michael. He will receive a cash award that will be put toward professional development.
This year the award was shared between 2 highly respected candidates.
Hui Zhou is a Community Outreach Lawyer with Fitzroy Legal Service. Hui has assisted clients of numerous services in Yarra to resolve legal issues. Hui shares the award with Kasey Elmore, NSP Worker at North Richmond Community Health.
Andrew Reid has been working at YSAS for over 10 years, and has been working with vulnerable young people for more than two decades. Within YSAS he has worked across all service types, including intensive support/withdrawal units, Day Programs, residential rehab, and youth outreach.
Thuy Bui has worked at North Richmond Community Health Centre since August 2004. The focus of her work has been with Vietnamese drug users and Vietnamese families with a family member who is using drugs.
Danny Jeffcote has worked for North Yarra Community Health since 2002 and is based at MINE Primary Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) in Smith Street Collingwood.
Danny is a supporter of Harm Reduction policies and services and has used the prize money to put toward the cost of attending the International Harm Reduction conference in Barcelona and to investigate mobile Supervised Injecting Facilities there.
Faye Edebohls from North Richmond Community Health - inaugural Yarra AOD Worker of the Year