The aim of the Peer Network Program© is to reduce the spread of hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses like HIV and hepatitis B. 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.
By increasing access to sterile needles/syringes and passing on important information and education related to reducing the harms of injecting drugs.
In Melbourne, we have excellent Needle Syringe Programs (NSPs), 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.
These are exactly the groups of people who inject that the Peer Network Program© seek to recruit as ‘peer networkers’.
We know that peer education and distribution is already happening – despite the fact that it is technically illegal in Victoria 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.
*fit= outfit ie. syringe/needle