Harm Reduction Victoria

Young Users

Young Users Program Logo

The Young Users Project has been a project of Harm Reduction Victoria (HRV) since the late 90’s and it continues to be one of HRV’s most innovative initiatives.

As its name suggests, the project has always targeted young people, including young people who are already injecting as well as those who may be taking drugs via other routes – i.e. snorting, swallowing, smoking or shafting – and may transition to injecting.

The project has always focused on BBV (blood borne virus) prevention & safer drug use in order to reduce the harms associated with injecting drug use.

Why is it important to educate young people about BBV/hepatitis C prevention?

  • 1 in 5 new hepatitis C infections are among young people aged 15-19 years
  • 33% prevalence of hepatitis C among young people who inject drugs

(NCHECR, 2006)

Hep C graph

The Kirby Institute (2011). Australian NSP Survey National Data Report 1995-2010: Prevalence of HIV, HCV and injecting & sexual behavior among NSP attendees. Sydney, Kirby Institute, UNSW


has always aimed to be responsive to changing trends among young people who use drugs. This aspect of the project has been fundamental to its success; it ensures that the information provided remains up to date and relevant to the target group.

YUP has always used art as its primary medium and as a means of engaging young people.


Previous YUP Initiatives:

4 Graffiti Mural projects:

rollerSafe Disposal mural in Baptist Lane, Melbourne CBD (2002)

hepcmuralHepatitis C mural cnr Fitzroy & Grey St, St Kilda (2003)

malmsburyHep C and HIV mural at Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre (2004)


HIV/AIDS prevention mural at Health Works Footscray launched on World Aids Day  (2005)


Acting Up play:

15 young users recruited to perform real life scenarios about safer drug use
92 performances over 3 years in 2005, 2006 & 2007

Graphic Novels

Acting Up turned into graphic novel (2008)
Injector Gadget (2009)

In 2011-12, YUP is currently exploring the use of multimedia and other creative formats which will resonate with new users and initiates and young people at risk of initiation to injecting drug use.