Peer-based Peak Body Scoping Project
QNADA recognises the important role that people who use health services can have in contributing to and informing the delivery of the services and systems that they access. We also recognise the specific difficulties in hearing the voices of people who use drugs (PWUD) in service or system design, re-design or evaluation in the alcohol and other drug treatment and harm reduction sector. In particular, the criminalisation of use and possession and the associated stigma and discrimination faced by people who use illicit drugs is a significant barrier to the engagement and participation of this group.
Queensland Health, Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch commissioned QNADA to undertake consultation with people who use drugs in Queensland. The purpose of this consultation was to understand the experiences of people who use drugs in Queensland, the issues that are important to them and how their voices could be amplified to influence the policies, systems and services that are relevant to them.
QNADA acknowledges the work that has been done in this area to date by our collaborating organisations on this project, particularly the Queensland Injectors Voice of Advocacy and Action (QuIVAA) and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) (Queensland Indigenous Substance Misuse Council (QISMC)).
The Covid-19 pandemic required a redesign of the consultation approach which initially planned to utilise face-to-face focus groups and individual interviews. Instead, the consultation approach took the form of an online survey, promoted via social media, and one-on-one telephone and online interviews with people who use drugs from across Queensland. A total of 401 people participated in the consultation from a diverse range of ages, genders, locations and cultural backgrounds.
The consultations revealed a range of experiences and perspectives of people who use drugs in Queensland who participated in the consultations. These include the following:
- Around half of respondents indicated that they had accessed AOD treatment.
- Nearly a third of respondents reported that they hadn’t experienced any challenges as a consequence of their substance use.
- Around half of respondents indicated that they identify as a peer in a community of people who use drugs.
- Representation for people who use drugs in Queensland should include people who use illicit, licit and have previously used drugs and there should be particular attention paid to the people who experience significant harms and are regularly stigmatised in the community.
- Representation activities should include advocacy for changing drug laws and policy, activity which creates positive outcomes with a focus on the health, happiness and human rights of people who use drugs and work to end stigma and discrimination.
QNADA has synthesised the information gathered to identify the key themes that we think warrant further consideration. These include the following:
- The population of people who use drugs in Queensland is heterogeneous.
- Whilst similar perspectives emerged amongst groups like people who inject substances, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, differences emerged in terms of particular harms and stigma experienced.
- Peer-based organisations, including those who represent people who use drugs, already exist in Queensland.
- Supporting existing peer-based organisations to expand is an attractive option. It is also important to consider how people from different population groups identify, particularly those who experience disproportionate harms.
- The representation activity required stretches beyond the health system.
- The range of identified activity stretches across many systems including health, justice and child safety to name a few. Representative capacity will need to be able to engage with a range of stakeholders across systems.
QNADA recognises and values the contributions from people who use drugs from across Queensland and extends sincere thanks to all those who shared their stories and experiences.
For more information, please read the full report by clicking the button below or contact Sue Pope, Senior Policy and Engagement Manager.
Peer Peak Body Scoping Project Summary Report
Peer Peak Body Scoping Project Report Infographics
Watch: Peer Peak Body Scoping Project Video