Evaluation of the COAG Supporting Measures Relating to Needle & Syringe Programs in Victoria

Project Type - Drug and alcohol, Program evaluation and review


The Department of Health, Victoria (the Department) engaged Health Outcomes International (HOI) to undertake an evaluation of the Victorian NSP, with particular emphasis on the Supporting Measures funded under the COAG Agreement.


NSPs are a public health initiative that form part of a harm minimisation strategy to reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) among populations of injecting drug users (IDUs). 


The NSP was introduced in Victoria in 1987 via four pilot programs to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among people who inject drugs and subsequently to the general community


Since 1999, COAG has provided a package of measures under the Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative, which included two health promotion initiatives relating to NSPs: 

  • Initiative 1: Increased education, counselling and referral services provided through NSPs.
  • Initiative 2: Diversification of existing NSPs.

Key methodological components included:

  • the conduct of broadly based consultations (face to face and telephone) with a total of 184 stakeholders including:

- policy makers (11)

- stakeholder Organisations (31)

- service Providers (28)

- IDU (114)

  • a scan of the published literature and a review of the documentation provided by the Department was undertaken to provide the evidence base to review the Victorian NSP and an understanding of the current environment with respect to NSP service delivery in Victoria and oversees
  • an evaluation framework was developed to address the questions relating to the evaluation objectives 
  • data synthesis and analysis to assess the effectiveness of the NSP and COAG initiatives in achieving the specified goals and objectives.


HOI produced a comprehensive and evidence based evaluation report summarising the findings of the analysis undertaken and provided a number of recommendations. The report included an assessment of the following areas:

  • NSP Policy and Strategy
  • NSP Service Models
  • Partnerships Arrangements
  • Governance and Reporting Arrangements
  • Future Considerations
  • Syringe Vending Machines