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ID: HR23-536
Presenting author: Kevin Winder

Presenting author biography:

Kevin Winder has worked in AOD, homelessness, mental health and STI/BBV sector services for 25 years, including 8 years coordinating Peer Based Harm Reduction WA’s Needle and Syringe Exchange Program and is currently enrolled in a Graduate Certificate in Business at Curtin University.

Peer Based Harm Reduction Western Australia: Needle and Syringe Exchange Program Services and Harm Reduction During a Pandemic

Kevin Winder, Angela Corry, Leanne Myers, Susan Carruthers, Paul Dessauer, Peta Gava, Jodie Savage
Peer Based Harm Reduction Western Australia (PBHRWA) delivers peer based services and is the primary harm reduction organisation for WA. PBHRWA is consumer-led, with a focus on co-design and meeting people where they are at, in order to support them to achieve the best health outcomes using regular health promotion activities, in a way that is accessible, culturally appropriate and free of judgement and discrimination.

PBHRWA is well-known for providing a range of Needle and Syringe Exchange Program (NSEP) services including two fixed-sites, outreach home delivery, mobile and postal NSEP services.

PBHRWA has also presented at conferences internationally, in Portugal and in Scotland, as a result of international recognition of the PBHRWA’s leadership in evidence-informed harm reduction services. PBHRWA is regularly asked to take part in research projects and to facilitate the participation of consumers in research surveys.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020), PBHRWA responded by developing a structure to prevent service closure. The development of peer-produced harm reduction resources and COVID safety information supported service users. PBHRWA modified policies and procedures for the safety of staff and consumers, initiating contactless home delivery and free postal services.

From July 2021 to June 2022, despite a global pandemic, PBHRWA distributed 1,750,000 needles and syringes, through 16,000 occasions of service with consumers.

Consistent and ongoing contingency planning enabled a swift and adaptive response to WA Health Department changes in restrictions and lockdowns. PBHRWA responded to the needs of consumers, overcoming barriers to accessing services during the pandemic and preventing the potential spread of blood-borne virus.

So What?
Efforts of staff encouraging consumers to access the service less often for more equipment resulted in a more significant reduction in occasions of service than distribution, demonstrating the effectiveness of targeted ‘brief intervention’s’ and peer-produced resources.