Assessing the workforce development needs of the NT AOD workforce

May 2018
NCETA. (2018). Alcohol and other drugs workforce development assessment: Summary report to Northern Territory Primary Health Network. Adelaide: National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University.

The NT Primary Health Network (PHN), covering 1.34 million square miles, is one of the largest PHNs geographically but with one of the smallest populations in Australia. The NT has a relatively young population and its population is ageing at a slower rate than the rest of Australia. In addition, the NT is characterised by unique patterns of heavy AOD use and related harms, high levels of workforce mobility, and large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, many of whom live in very remote areas. In addition, there are a number of challenges associated with preventing and responding to AOD-related harm and providing services in rural and remote communities.

While some preliminary work has recently been undertaken to profile the NT AOD workforce by the Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT), there is limited information about employee demographics, qualifications, roles and employment intentions.

To better understand the scope and nature of AOD workforce development (WFD) issues in the Territory, the NT PHN commissioned NCETA to undertake a comprehensive examination of the AOD sector’s WFD needs.

In undertaking this project, NCETA:

  • Examined current WFD and other literature, focusing on recent research findings and policy developments specific to the NT
  • Extracted NT data from the 2016 NDSHS and 2014 Alcohol’s Burden of Disease in Australia report
  • Prepared a consultation paper that outline the key AOD WFD-related issues for the NT which guided and informed NCETA’s consultation process
  • Conducted face-to-face consultations with key stakeholders including workers supervisors and managers in Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine.

Having critically reviewed the available information, NCETA identified eight Recommended Actions to further support and enhance the NT AOD workforce:

  1. Enhance Understanding of the NT AOD workforce 
  2. Improve recruitment and retention
  3. Support workers in rural and remote communities
  4. Support the Aboriginal workforce
  5. Improve intersectoral collaboration
  6. Enhance access to education and training
  7. Enhance clinical supervision and mentoring opportuinities
  8. Support practice innovations.

Each Recommended Action also has a series of identified underpinning WFD strategies (a total of 58 Strategies).

The report has been disseminated to all key AOD stakeholders in the NT, and the findings were presented by Professor Ann Roche at the AADANT 2018 conference in Darwin on 13 April (see accompanying news item in this edition).

In addition, the NT AOD Coordination Group comprising representatives from the NT Department of Health, AADANT, the NT PHN and AOD service providers is using the report to explore options to develop a NT-specific AOD WFD Strategic Framework.