Co-occurring capacity building project activities

comorbidity projects at vaada

Trauma Informed Care Training

With its funding from the Australian Department of Health Substance Misuse Services Delivery Grants Fund (SMSDGF) VAADA is continuing to support the sector in the development of skills and confidence to work effectively with people presenting with trauma related issues.

In April, May and June 2014 VAADA facilitated a series of one-day “master-classes”. These experiential workshops covered 5 key areas of trauma informed care:

  • Trauma and CALD populations
  • Trauma and family violence
  • Trauma and Aboriginal populations
  • Trauma and sexual assault
  • Surviving childhood trauma

Personality Disorders Workshops

In 2013, VAADA organised four personality disorders (PD) workshops that were half-day and free-of-charge. Facilitated by psychotherapist Britt Farrance,  the workshops covered topics such as attachment theory and a trauma model to better understand how to work effectively with people with complex needs.

Outputs and outcomes

  •  4 sessions run with approximately 160 AOD and related workers in attendance (40 people per session).
  • Provision of PD workshop notes and reading list to participants.
  • Networking opportunities with colleagues from a variety of sectors – AOD, mental health, forensic, youth and family, housing.
  • An evaluation, completed by 71% of participants, which showed:
    • 95% agreed or strongly agreed their knowledge about personality disorders has increased.
    • 85% agreed or strongly agreed their confidence to respond to clients with PDs has increased.
    • 86% agreed or strongly agreed the resource materials appeared useful.
    • 97% agreed or strongly agreed that overall the forum was valuable.

Peaks Capacity Building Network (PCBN)

The PCBN forms part of the ongoing collaboration between the Australian state and territory AOD peak organisations who have been funded under the SMSDGF. It acts as a forum to discuss issues and provides input into the future directions, funding and capacity building activities across the AOD sector.

Outputs and outcomes

  • Attendance at fortnightly teleconference meetings with hosting on rotating basis and attendance at face-to-face meetings twice yearly.
  • Dissemination of shared information and resources via email.
  • Identification of and response to national workforce/sector development requirements of the AOD sector in relation to co-occuring mental health and AOD issues and the broader complexity of clients accessing services.
  • Provision of updates on state and territory initiatives relevant to the capacity building projects.


ISI/VDDI Conference 2012 “Change Management and Trauma Informed Care”

The ISI/VDDI conference (also known as the Victorian Dual Diagnosis Conference) was a 2-day annual conference held in August 2012. Jointly run by the Victorian Dual Diagnosis Initiative (VDDI), the Improved Services Initiative (ISI), led by VAADA, and the Homeless Youth Dual Diagnosis Initiative (HYDDI), the theme of the conference was change management and trauma-informed care.

Outputs and outcomes

  • 51% of participants found the conference to be “very useful” as a means of sharing wisdom, experience and ideas, and a further 22% found it to be “quite useful”.
  • 30% strongly agreed, and 53% agreed that the conference helped them to develop skills and resources that could be applied to their comorbidity approach.
  • Improved networks between AOD (ISI – SMSDGF funded agencies) and mental health services (VDDI).
  • Greater knowledge regarding evidence based approaches to coexisting AOD and mental health concerns.
  • Enhanced skills and confidence to provide effective interventions and innovative service delivery responses.


SMSDGF Network Meetings

VAADA facilitates six face-to-face meetings a year (bi-monthly) for the project workers funded under the SMSDGF. The meetings are a chance for project workers to network and problem solve, share information and resources and attend presentations on relevant topics. Communication is also promoted via an email list.

Outputs and outcomes

  • Bi-monthly meetings held in Melbourne with around 20 participants in attendance at each meeting.
  • Survey undertaken in April/May 2013 to determine worker’s needs around content of meetings and support from VAADA. Survey results then collated and evaluated and changes made to meeting format.
  • Facilitation of guest speakers on a range of professional development topics as identified by network members.
  • Networking opportunities for all participating project workers.
  • Increased knowledge on relevant topics, e.g. consumer participation, change management, cultural competency, project implementation and sustainability, project challenges and problem solving, updates from the VDDI.
  • Shared distribution of information (training, agency tools, etc.) and relevant events.

VAADA Conference 2013 “Broadening The Focus”

Held in Melbourne in February 2013, VAADA’s 2-day conference enabled participants to come together and consider the changing landscape of the AOD sector and the new opportunities emerging from the Victorian government’s proposed reforms and recommissioning of the service system.

Outputs and outcomes

  • 273 registrations in total with 73 services represented and 140 presenters over 2 days.
  • 100 oral presentations and workshops delivered with 24 streams, 3 specifically focussing on comorbidity.
  • Facilitation of expert national and international key note presentations.
  • An evaluation which showed:
    • 95% attendees rated the conference as good or excellent.
    • 66% said they gained an opportunity to network, while 63% said they gained new ideas and thinking about AOD related issues.
    • Improved networks between metropolitan, regional and rural AOD workers and services from other sectors including mental health, child and family, forensic, housing and indigenous.
    • Increased knowledge for AOD and other workers about new trends in evidence-based practice.

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) Sector Survey

In March 2013, VAADA surveyed the Victorian AOD sector about their knowledge and understanding of trauma informed care (TIC) as well as their current practices in response to the needs of people who have experienced traumatic events before or as part of their AOD use. All AOD workers were encouraged to share their knowledge and experience to help inform the development and rollout of TIC resources across the sector.

Outputs and outcomes

  • Review of literature about trauma informed care.
  • Formation of TIC advisory group with key experts from mental health, AOD and trauma-specific services.
  • 3 face-to-face meetings with TIC advisory group and email communication about development of survey and appropriate language.
  • Survey monkey questionnaire finalised and disseminated to AOD workers via multiple ENEWS ads (approx 1,700 subscribers).
  • 222 questionnaires completed and returned to VAADA. Compilation of results and evaluation report.
  • Needs identification led to development of TIC training package.

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) Training Program

VAADA developed (with assistance from the TIC Advisory Group) a training program based on the feedback received from the TIC sector survey. One-day experiential workshops, facilitated by Donna Zander, Child and Family Counsellor, and held in 6 locations across Victoria in September aimed to equip workers with new skills and the confidence to work more effectively with people who present with trauma-related issues

Outputs and outcomes

  •  3 face-to-face meetings with TIC advisory group and email communication about planning and developing training package.
  • Training objectives and program outline provided to workshop facilitator Donna Zander who along with a consumer, delivered training in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon, Benalla and Colac
  • Approx. 240 attendees across 6 sessions with networking opportunities for all participants.
  • Provision of a suite of resources including Donna Zander’s presentation, reading list, TIC prompt cards, tools and other resources.
  • 198 evaluations completed which showed:
    • 98% strongly agreed/agreed the presenter had appropriate knowledge and skills and 92% strongly agreed/agreed that the consumer perspective was valuable.
    • 94% strongly agreed/agreed that their knowledge about trauma had increased.
    • 83% strongly agreed/agreed that their confidence to respond to clients had increased.
    • 95% strongly agreed/agreed that overall the workshop was valuable.

AOD and MH Prompt Cards

The AOD and MH prompt cards, developed by VAADA in 2011-2012 aimed to improve efficient communication and referrals for health and welfare workers. The cards cover a range of AOD and mental health related topics and provide a list of prompts using appropriate language. In addition to disseminating the cards free of charge to services based in Victoria, VAADA has also developed a training package to accompany these resources.

Outputs and outcomes

  • Over 33,000 MH and AOD cards distributed in Victoria and interstate via conferences and email advertising campaigns.
  • Dissemination of cards to wide variety of agencies – AOD, MH, forensic, hospital, housing, legal, Aboriginal, and private practitioners.
  • Participation of 30 agencies in AOD/MH prompt card training.
  • Access to up-to-date and relevant AOD and MH information for clinicians and increased knowledge on related topics.
  • Enhanced skills to respond to AOD and mental health related concerns.

Capacity Building and Change Management Manual 

‘Capacity Building and Change Management: A guide for services implementing dual diagnosis processes’ was published by VAADA in early 2012 and is aimed at achieving sustainable co-occurring practice through a change management process. The printed manuals have been distributed at conferences and via post to interested parties. A campaign in June 2013 was developed to disseminate the final 350 copies.

Outputs and outcomes

  • Increased access to up-to-date and relevant workforce resources for clinicians.
  • Anticipated greater understanding of change management processes – particularly relevant for current climate in Victoria with launch of recommissioning framework.

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) Prompt Cards

VAADA developed (with assistance from the TIC Advisory Group) a set of 2 prompt cards which covered relevant TIC topics, to complement the existing AOD/MH prompt cards. The cards have been disseminated at conferences, workshops and forums.

Outputs and outcomes

  • 2 prompt cards with information on signs and symptoms, talking about trauma, useful responses to managing distress, useful questions.
  • Distribution to AOD, MH and related sectors via conferences and other events, as well as at 6 regional and metro TIC training sessions.
  • Increased access to up-to-date and relevant TIC information for clinicians.

Capacity Building Networks

Participation in the following networks:

  • NCETA and Odyssey Family Violence resource advisory group
  • VDDI Leadership Group
  • RMIT Vocational Education and Training Program Advisory Committee
  • VACCHO Coalition for Aboriginal Health Equality
  • Family Alcohol and Drug Network (Fadnet)
  • Health West Alcohol and Drug Working Group
  • Registered Training Organisations Workforce Development network

Outputs and outcomes

  • Attendance at a range of networks both within and external to the AOD sector.
  • Collaboration between AOD sector and other service system representatives with opportunities to promote capacity building initiatives across diverse settings.
  • Increased awareness of and knowledge about co-occurring practice within a range of other relevant sectors.
  • Information sharing on relevant professional development opportunities.
  • Greater consistency in the training provided to the AOD and allied sectors.

SMSDGF Managers and Workers Forum

In September 2013, VAADA organised a forum for the services funded under the SMSDGF to address the recommissioning of the AOD sector. Facilitated by management consultant, Kris Honey, the forum provided managers and workers with an opportunity to translate what has already been learned from capacity building over the past few years into a rapidly changing environment, and clarify future directions of the SMSDGF projects.

Outputs and outcomes

  • Consolidation and shared learning from 5 years of capacity building.
  • Information sharing and increased awareness of change management processes.
  • An evaluation, which showed that 77% of attendees agreed the workshop was valuable.


If you have any questions about our projects, please contact Jane Moreton on or 03 9412 5608.

Vaada Supporters

VAADA acknowledges the support of the (Australian) Department of Health.

aboriginal flag  VAADA acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Victoria