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Youth Projects’ Proactive Overdose Response Initiative has emerged amidst a context of increasing drug overdose in Victoria.


Since 2010, rates of fatal drug overdose in the state have risen almost 40 per cent, up from 342 deaths to 477*. Research further indicates that for every overdose death, there are an estimated 20-25 non-fatal overdose incidents^. The growing severity of the issue underscores the need for a more collaborative and comprehensive service approach to drug overdose in Melbourne. It is to this need that the Proactive Overdose Response Initiative directly responds.

Initiative Summary

The Proactive Overdose Response Initiative adopts a systematic approach to engage and support disadvantaged individuals who have experienced any mode of drug overdose, or who are at risk thereof. With the core ambition of preventing the (re)occurrence of drug overdose, the initiative seeks to connect this target group with a range of Youth Projects’ pre-established services and training programs, including overdose response/ naloxone training, overdose prevention education, safer-use advice, counselling and post-incident care. Upon request, the Initiative also offers multiple pathways into treatment programs and other health and social welfare services.

Recognising any effective preventive approach to overdose requires action beyond the individual deemed ‘at risk’, our Initiative also seeks to enhance community capacity to understand and respond to drug overdose. Accordingly, Youth Projects extends its overdose prevention education and overdose response/ naloxone training to partners, friends and family of those who are at-risk of drug overdose, as well as to those who work within the alcohol and other drug sector.

A Collaborative Response

As a new initiative, we are looking to develop partnerships with local stakeholders and organisations that encounter overdose events or that maintain contact with individuals at risk of overdose. Through these partnerships, we seek to open referral pathways to enhance our engagement at critical opportunities (e.g. following an overdose event) so that at-risk individuals can be provided with timely and appropriate follow up.

If you would like further information concerning the Initiative, would like to partner with Youth Projects or wish to refer a client to our service, contact Tristan Duncan (Proactive Overdose Response Initiative Project Officer) on (03) 9945 2100 or 0459 779 011 or email

* Coroners Court of Victoria (2017), Submission to Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Dug Law Reform, p. 30
^ European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2010), Annual Report: The State of the Drugs Problem in Europe, p. 85