Insights from our 2021 Annual Report
Over 5,000 people supported
Over 300 families supported to live safer lives
500 young people re-connected with education and employment
With Afri-Aus Care, delivered food to 9,000 people during lockdown
49 workers placed through Working for Victoria program
$30,000 allocated for Covid emergency client funds
100 clients supported by Covid emergency client funds
18% improvement in youth AOD clients’ psychological wellbeing scores
15% improvement in adult AOD clients’ psychological wellbeing scores
Celebrating diversity and inclusion
TaskForce is committed to providing culturally safe, inclusive and accessible services and work environments where all individuals feel supported and affirmed.
We aspire to work in solidarity and alliance with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and acknowledge them as the traditional owners and custodians of the land.
TaskForce values diversity, inclusion and social justice and is dedicated to actively addressing discrimination and ensuring every individual is treated with dignity and respect.
We honour and celebrate our differences and uniqueness in cultural and linguistic background, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, intersex status, sexual orientation, age, disability status, health status and religious or spiritual beliefs.
TaskForce sees diversity and inclusion as integral to who we are – as an employer, as a service provider, and as a part of the broader community in which we all live. Creating an environment that welcomes all and celebrates our differences not only helps us to deliver our vision, but makes us a stronger organisation.
In 2021 we prioritised this commitment through the initiation of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2021 – 2023 and the formation of TaskForce Diversity & Inclusion Working Group, working across four strategic priorities:
Over the last year we have surveyed the views of our employees and clients, conducted organisational audits, and researched best practice in order to develop our strategic priorities. Our annual staff day in May was a colourful celebration of diversity and inclusion beginning with a welcome to country from Janet Galpin from the Boon Wurrung Foundation, a beautiful smoking ceremony from David Tournier, and a robust discussion of how we can make TaskForce a more inclusive organisation for our clients and staff.
We are making changes to our internal policies and procedures to promote equity for all prospective and current employees and ensure that no one is discriminated against. TaskForce has always valued flexibility in working arrangements and will continue to prioritise this as a way of promoting inclusion and attracting diversity.
For clients and employees, it is important that we have an educated, empathetic and confident workforce. Many clients are exposed to overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalisation, making our wraparound model even more valuable in its ability to be flexible and responsive to individual
In the last year all staff attended Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety training, and we have commenced the roll out of LGBTIQ Inclusive Practice training and Disability Awareness training across the organisation. This training is now embedded into our induction for all new staff, volunteers and students.
We also launched ‘TaskForce Pride’, an online internal newsletter to help build the knowledge and capacity of our staff on how we can all work together to make our organisation more inclusive for LGBTIQ people.
Inclusive and culturally safe service provision
During the year TaskForce has continued to work directly with diverse communities to drive health and wellbeing outcomes.
On an organisational level, TaskForce is working to ensure that all systems, policies and forms support appropriate and sensitive data collection and management processes. We recognise the importance of accurately identifying, considering, and counting the diverse demographics within our staff and client groups, particularly for communities such as LGBTIQ people who have historically been invisible. We have started consultation processes with our communities and are developing a more strategic approach to consumer participation across all programs and services.
While we are aware that true cultural safety takes time, we have not forgotten the importance of signalling a welcoming place for our diverse consumer groups. We are updating our workplaces, website and printed materials to ensure that they are accessible and overtly display our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Our impact - alcohol and other drug services
- Approximately 40% were forensic clients, that is mandated cclients including those on bail, youth justice orders, and community corrections orders
- Cannabis was overwhelmingly the most common principle drug of concern (46%), followed by alcohol (17%) and methamphetamine (17%)
- 60% of our youth AOD clients had a diagnosed mental health condition, with the most common diagnosis being mood/affective disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. This emphasises the need for a wraparound model of care that addresses all barriers including mental health and AOD misuse
- 62% either successfully completed treatment, changed treatment type, or transferred to a different service
- Almost half were forensic clients, that is, mandated clients including those on Community Corrections Orders, bail, and diversion programs
- Methamphetamine was the most common principal drug of concern (38%), closely followed by alcohol (32%)
- Over half (53%) have a diagnosed mental health condition. Similar to our youth clients this is primarily mood/affective disorders.
- 66% either successfully completed treatment, changed treatment type, or transferred to a different service
Of 130 youth clients sampled who have been engaged with TaskForce AOD services for three months or more, and who have completed outcome surveys in the last financial year:
- 62% of clients registered an improved psychological wellbeing score – slightly lower than this time last year
- The average improvement in psychological wellbeing was 18% – similar to this time last year
- The average improvement amongst those who registered an improvement was 39% – greater than this time last year
- 60% registered an improvement in their quality of life – slightly lower than this time last year
- The average improvement in quality of life was 16% – slightly lower than this time last year
- The average improvement amongst those who registered an improvement was 34% – similar to this time last year
Of 184 adult clients sampled who have been engaged with TaskForce AOD services for one month or more, and who have completed outcome surveys in the last financial year:
- 57% registered an improved psychological wellbeing score – significantly greater than this time last year
- The average improvement in psychological wellbeing was 15% – greater than this time last year
- The average improvement among those who registered an improvement was 35% – significantly greater than this time last year
- 55% registered an improvement in their quality of life – slightly greater than this time last year
- The average improvement in quality of life was 13% – slightly greater than this time last year
- The average improvement amongst those who registered an improvement was 33% – greater than this time last year
Our impact - education, engagement and employment
Behaviour Change Program
Transition to work
The driver Behaviour Change Program remains our largest education program, despite the disrupted year. Supporting people who have lost their licence due to a drink- or drug-driving offence, the Behaviour Change Program works with people to understand the root causes behind their offending and change their behaviour so they can safely get back on the road.
1,201 people participated in the program this year, including 69 for drink driver programs, 444 for drug driver programs, and 478 for intensive drink and drug driver programs. This speaks to our capacity to work with more complex clients in this space, including those who are repeat drink- or drug-driving offenders,
or who committed more serious driving offences.
In what was already a highly disrupted school year, our Navigator team worked to reconnect 68 young people (12-17 year-olds) to education. These participants had missed 70% or more of a previous school term and were thus already on a path towards early school leaving and its attendant social and economic consequences.
In order to reconnect participants to education, we work to address the underlying causes, bringing together the participant, their family, the school, and any other support services they need to create significant outcomes.
Identifying a gap, with additional funding from the Department of Education and Training, we implemented a mental health worker component, acknowledging the impact that Covid-19 had on students’ wellbeing. Working alongside the Navigator case managers, the mental health practitioner supports participants by providing intense mental health non-clinical support so that the young person can return to school.
The success of this approach saw 70% of our participants return to education, remaining engaged at school with at least 75% attendance.
Our Youth Start Transition to Work program supports young people aged 15-24 to find and keep employment suited to their needs and interests, or reconnect with further education. Our team works alongside young people to address any barriers, develop short and long-term vocational goals and create an action plan to get them started in achieving their career and education aspirations. We deliver rigorous training opportunities and equip them with the work and life skills they need to find and keep employment.
As with all our programs, this year presented its own additional challenges due to the inability to engage with and deliver services to young people in person, as well as the uncertain job market that particularly disadvantages young people.
Despite these difficulties, we were able to support 313 people, with 267 achieving long-term, sustainable placements in education or employment. Even better, 120 have already been placed for six months, representing 130% of our contractual targets.
Our impact - family services and family safety
Breaking the Barriers
Supporting women with AOD misuse issues and complex disadvantage, as well as their children, our Breaking the Barriers and Family Reunification programs helped over 200 people this year.
Of 64 women supported by Breaking the Barriers clinicians this year, 91% were assessed as having achieved a significant treatment goal. A sample of 59 of these women who had been engaged with the program for at least one month reported an average improvement in psychological wellbeing of 7.5% – this lower number comparative to our AOD clients is likely due to increased complexity of BTB participants. More positively, 69% of these clients who were assessed as at high-risk of alcohol misuse and 81% of these clients who were assessed as heavily dependent on drugs showed significant improvement following treatment.
The work of our clinicians meant that women were supported to reduce AOD misuse, access safe and stable accommodation, build their parenting skills, improve their overall wellbeing and remain united with their children.
Despite interruptions in the past financial year, we were excited to receive the final evaluation report of our U-Turn program, undertaken by researchers from Monash University’s Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre.
This innovative program, developed and delivered by TaskForce, is a men’s behaviour change style group program for male perpetrators of family violence who currently or historically have misused alcohol or other drugs. U-Turn aims to prevent civil offences escalating into the criminal justice system, while increasing the safety of the affected family members of the participants.
The evaluation found that the affected family members of the men in the U-Turn program experienced improved safety, noting:
- An improvement in men’s use of respectful communication;
- A reduction in experiences of controlling behaviours, such as social isolation, financial control and sexual jealousy
- A reduction in experiences of non-physical forms of harassment, such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, humiliation, stalking behaviours and property damage; and
- A reduction in experiences of physical abuse (including threats with a weapon and threats to kill)
In addition to these positive outcomes, men reported changes to their problematic AOD use including:
- A reduction in AOD use
- Improved insight into the impact of AOD use on their behaviour
- Improved ability to moderate alcohol intake to avoid drinking to excess
Further, none of the U-Turn participants reappeared in court for new family violence matters over the 12 months follow-up timeframe, and two thirds of U-Turn participants did not appear in the court system for a family violence intervention order breach during the follow-up timeframe.
The success of the program for victim/survivors of family violence, and the behaviour change it led in male perpetrators, demonstrates the success of the combined intervention approach addressing the intersection of violent attitudes and behaviours as well as AOD misuse. We will draw on this evaluation to seek new funding for U-Turn from 2021.
Women in the justice system often present with unique needs and distinct pathways to offending such as trauma, mental health, alcohol and other drug use and often have a history of relationships marked with violence and abuse. Between 57% and 90% have experienced child sexual abuse and other forms of victimisation, 89% have a history of sexual abuse, and as many as 98% have experienced violence.
The Living Free Project is a place-based intervention operating in Frankston Mornington Peninsula with the aim of preventing young girls and women from entering the justice system by addressing these earlier harms. Combining wraparound, direct intervention – including family-inclusive counselling and case management using an outreach model – with system capacity building and advocacy, Living Free is able to significantly improve the lives of women and girls in the region.
Of our Living Free clients
were charged with criminal offences, primarily drug-related, prior to their engagement with the Living Free Project
were on remand at the time of the referral and all received bail with the support of the Living Free Project
reported alcohol and other drug issues upon referral – only 13% were engaged in specialist AOD treatment
disclosed mental health issues, however complex trauma was present for 100% – only one was engaged with mental health services
were homeless on referral and a further 20% were in unstable or conflictual living arrangements with family or friends
of women disclosed current or previous family violence however none of the women were involved with family violence services at the time of referral to Living Free. 100% of the younger cohort had been exposed to family violence
of participants presented with co-occurring needs related to AOD, mental health, homelessness and/or family violence
Despite the complex needs of these women and girls, with our support they were able to achieve incredible outcomes:
have been charged with further offending
were receiving specialist AOD support
now have safe, secure and stable accommodation
reported improvements in their support network and having people they can depend on
of the girls who were disengaged from school on referral were actively engaged in education or training
In addition, through bringing together agencies and organisations across the health and community sectors in our area, we have built robust systems to prevent these girls and women, and others like them in the future, from falling through the cracks.