Presenting author: Bee Hayes
Presenting author biography:
Bee Hayes has a background in youth work and crisis support. They have been working as the DanceWize Program Coordinator for the past year and have recently taken on a secondment to coordinate to a risk register management system project with the Pharmacotherapy Advocacy and Mediation Service.
Emerging Interest for Peer Education In Instructional Contexts and Systemic Barriers
Bee Hayes, Nick Kent, Jane Dicka
Harm Reduction Victoria fields various enquiries directed through our general administrative email regarding requests for peer/Living and Lived Experience worker-facilitated drug education, health promotion, and professional development trainings each year.
Since February 2022 HRV has received 7 separate training and consultation requests directed either specifically to the DanceWize Program Coordinator or referred onto the DanceWize Program Coordinator by other management staff:
• 2 internal training requests for program-specific training to be adapted for another HRV program, and for all HRV staff
• 2 external training requests from AoD community services organisations
• 1 external request from a health promotion charity to deliver ongoing consultation, education, and support to students at 2 different Melbourne high schools
• 1 external training request from a state government department
While institutions such as schools and recovery-based drug and alcohol services have historically viewed peer education as less appropriate or valuable than non-peer-based consulting services or chaplaincy programs, emerging interest specifically in LLE worker-facilitated education shows there is a need to cultivate the implementation and ongoing development of peer- based educational modules.
While it was agreed the DanceWize Coordinator was best suited to engage with these requests, they do not formally fit within the KPI’s of the DanceWize program as specifically core funded activities, nor do these requests fall into the responsibility of other HRV programs.
Peer organisations need to be prepared for the barrage of requests that come as failed systems keep failing, yet are stifled in their attempts to meet growing interest in their expertise as long as systemic barriers around insufficient funding and stigmatisation of PWUD continue. As LLE workers are beginning to be recognised and respected for their accurate, objective, non-judgemental dialogue around drug education, peer organisations need to be adequately resourced to deliver this core area of education.