The Peer Networker Program
At HRVic we are very excited about our new peer education program for people who inject drugs – the Peer Networker Program. One of the most exciting things about the program is its focus on peer distribution of injecting equipment, which is a first for HRVic.
The plan is to recruit, train and support ‘peer networkers’ to distribute needles and syringes to their friends and associates as well as providing education about safer drug use and ‘modelling’ safer injecting practices.
We already have excellent Needle Syringe Programs (NSPs) in Melbourne. But when you look closely at NSP statistics, a number of groups including young people who inject and particularly young women, people from CALD backgrounds and aboriginal injectors are under-represented. So, we are particularly keen to recruit ‘peer networkers’ from these groups to provide needles/syringes to their peers and members of their own social & friendship networks.
The aim of the program is to reduce the spread of hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses like HIV and hepatitis B by increasing access to sterile needles/syringes.
We know this is already happening – despite the fact that it is technically illegal to give a fit to someone else unless you are authorised to do so. Even the regular stat sheet that you fill out every time you go into an NSP asks how many other people you are picking up for! HRVic believes a change in legislation is long overdue!
Once recruited, the peer networkers will attend a comprehensive training program. On completion of training they will be registered as HRVic volunteers and authorised Needle Syringe Program (NSP) Outreach Workers.