Reuniting families and saving lives

laurence alvis

Uniting ReGen executive officer Laurence Alvis

Uniting Vic.Tas launched two services on Wednesday that will work towards saving lives and creating safer environments for families across Victoria.

An additional $1.9 million funding from the state government will be used to deliver Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) treatment for parents whose children are subject to a family reunification order. The money will also fund a new opioid overdose prevention program.

A court can issue a family reunification order when a child is in need of protection and cannot safely stay in their parents’ care.

The parent must agree to meet certain conditions such as AOD treatment before they are reunified with their child.

Previous alcohol and other drug services did not have specific programs to support families on a reunification order.

Parents generally spent half of their 12-month reunification period waiting for their treatment service to commence.

The new Uniting program will be tailored to helping those in this situation.

Executive officer of Uniting ReGen Laurence Alvis said parents with a history of AOD dependence often face significant challenges when bringing their families back together.

“Many will have had to deal with issues such as social isolation, homelessness, mental health issues, family and domestic violence, childhood abuse and neglect and complex trauma,” Mr Alvis said.

“The family reunification service will provide parents with intensive, wrap-around support to help them recover and strengthen their capacity to provide a safe environment for their children.”

The new overdose prevention program will improve access for Victorians with a high risk of opioid overdose.

“We know periods immediately following residential withdrawal and rehabilitation or exit from prison carry a high risk of opioid overdose,” Mr Alvis said.

“The transition from residential treatment settings or prison back to the community can be particularly challenging.

“Our services will work with individuals and families during this transition to help them build their knowledge and increase their capacity to respond to opioid overdose.

“We know from experience how important it is to train people to identify signs of overdose and administer naloxone to a friend or loved one. It saves lives.”

The new Uniting AOD services will be delivered across the Wimmera, Ballarat, the Grampians, Gippsland and the North-West regions of Melbourne as part of the Victorian government’s 2017-2018 State Budget Alcohol and Other Drugs Initiatives.


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