As part of its 2017–18 work plan, AIVL sought to build capacity among peer educators and other health professionals to provide education and support to people who inject drugs to build resilience and take control of their health.
Through discussions with member organisations and researchers, such as Dr Graham Brown at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, it became clear that although a skilled and knowledgeable peer workforce exists across Australia, what was not clear was which organisational processes and environments support peers to build community resilience, and which processes and environments may hamper this. Dr Graham Brown has explored the idea of how peer programs work through the What Works and Why (W3) project within communities of people living with HIV and sex workers. However, its application among people who use drugs was less developed.
In response to this, AIVL partnered with Dr Brown to adapt the W3 framework into an organisational best practice guide specific for the context of people who use drugs (Peer Workforce Capacity Building Training Framework: Peer processes among injecting drug users – Indicators of best practice in peer based and mainstream organisations). Critically, the guide was designed for both drug user organisations as well as mainstream health organisations that are seeking to employ people with lived experience of illicit drug use.
The resulting guide aims to support organisations to improve their organisational practice and improve outcomes in peer-based programs. The guide provides a brief overview of the peer-based programs and their evolution in Australia and examines who is a peer in the drug-using context. It also provides a practical, audit-style tool that enables organisations to reflect on organisational practice and work towards indicators of best practice that AIVL, our member organisations and Dr Brown have developed.