Review of the NT Opiate Pharmacotherapy Program (OPP)

Project Type - Drug and alcohol


The catalyst for this review was the release of two reports; the Review of the Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) in the Northern Territory  and the Northern Territory Illicit Drug Reporting System Report (IDRS)  which were released in 2011 and 2010 respectively. In these reports, concerns were raised about the OPP by key experts who described the program as punitive, difficult to access, unfair, inflexible and needing to establish improved links with stakeholders. 


Accordingly, the Department appointed Health Outcomes International (HOI) to undertake a review to identify where the NT OPP is consistent with recognised best practice and where there are opportunities for improvement. 


The following objectives were established for the review:

  • Ensure the program and service model is consistent with current national and international best practice for the management of opioid dependent people.
  • Ensure the program and service model is consistent with quality health standards and the legislative requirements in managing opioid dependent people.
  • Determine whether the program and service model as currently constructed provides the optimal likelihood for client success as defined by the treatment goals negotiated between client and service provider.


A comprehensive review framework was developed, informed by: 

  • the conduct of a literature scan
  • consultation with five jurisdictional technical experts, the review steering committee and other relevant stakeholders
  • development of a program logic to provide an illustrative view of the program itself
  • a review of relevant datasets


Extensive fieldwork was undertaken as part of this project including:

  • a review of program documentation
  • consultations with key stakeholders, clients and potential clients (those who would benefit from the program but have elected not to participate)
  • qualitative and quantitative data analysis.


HOI produced a comprehensive and evidence based final report with findings and recommendations related to:

  • Philosophy and culture
  • Governance
  • Service model
  • Partnerships
  • Resourcing