Needle and syringe programs: your questions answered

Who works at needle and syringe program outlets?

Page last updated: 2005

Needle and Syringe Program workers generally include registered nurses, pharmacists, social workers and counsellors experienced in working with drug users and the wider community. Authorised doctors and health workers may also distribute needles and syringes.

Specialised training is important for all workers at Needle and Syringe Programs. In most Australian jurisdictions this includes education about the public health benefits of Needle and Syringe Programs, harm minimisation, transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B, drug use, referral and communication skills. Annual refresher courses and training on specific topics are also part of professional development. A National Meeting of Needle and Syringe Program Workers is held every two years as an opportunity for workers to share information, gain new knowledge and discuss emerging issues.

A number of Needle and Syringe Programs have 'peer-based' components. In peer-based programs, people with experience of drug use are employed to develop and deliver services to people who inject drugs. Peer-based services have had a significant and positive impact on the delivery, reach and acceptability of Needle and Syringe Programs to injecting drug users.

  • Needle and Syringe Program workers include registered nurses, pharmacists, social workers and counsellors experienced in working with drug users and the wider community.

  • Authorised doctors and health workers can also distribute needles and syringes.

Chrissy, Needle and Syringe Program client:

It makes me feel good to talk to people who don't judge me and are willing to listen. Otherwise I'd never have had the confidence to go through detox and rehab. They listened to my situation and got me a detox that understood my needs.