Physical health, wellbeing and AOD
Neami has been working with Health Justice Australia to explore needs and opportunities for health justice partnership. Health Justice Australia is the national centre of excellence for health justice partnership, supporting collaborations between services to achieve better health and justice outcomes for vulnerable communities.
Health Justice Australia supports the expansion and effectiveness of health justice partnerships through:
- Knowledge and its translation: developing evidence and translating that evidence into knowledge that is valued by practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and funders.
- Building capability: supporting practitioners to work collaboratively, including through brokering, mentoring and facilitating partnerships.
- Driving systems change: connecting the experience of people coming through health justice partnerships, and their practitioners, with opportunities for lasting systems change through reforms to policy settings, service design and funding.
Who is involved
Neami National and Health Justice Network.
Setting the groundwork
The work between Health Justice Australia and Neami has two streams. The first is to set the groundwork for partnerships in three Neami sites, with Neami seeking to reach out to local legal services.
This groundwork involves an in-depth analysis of the legal needs likely to arise for consumers of each service and challenges they face in accessing legal assistance. It also explores current relationships between the Neami staff on site and local legal service providers, together with new opportunities to connect with the legal help required.
“Neami understands the huge impact unmet legal needs can have on people’s mental health, sense of wellbeing, and safety. We need to think more creatively about how we partner to have these needs addressed and see health justice partnerships as a valuable opportunity to do this.”
– Priscilla Ennals, Senior Manager Research and Evaluation, Neami National
Legal needs assessments have been completed in two of the three sites. Following these assessments, Health Justice Australia is working with Neami to broker partnerships with potential legal partners, thinking broadly about what may work best in each service. While in one location this may be a lawyer embedded in a healthcare setting or team, in another the partnership(s) could focus on shared advocacy with other services about issues of mutual concern (e.g. access to housing). There could be elements of both in a single partnership. We look forward to sharing more about this work as it progresses.
Partners in research
The second stream of work is a research collaboration between the Health Justice Australia and the Neami research team to explore how health justice partnership may complement and support the work of Neami staff and services on the ground.
Together we are exploring:
- the potential for health justice partnership in different settings: in terms of legal issues arising and the existing capability of Neami staff (strengths and challenges) to identify and respond to legal issues affecting consumer health
- whether health justice partnership makes a difference to that capability.
The research project has commenced with a ‘baseline’ (pre-HJP) survey of more than 1,100 staff in Neami service sites across Australia. Staff were asked about:
- the types of legal issues that their consumers experience
- what they do to assist with these issues
- whether they feel they ‘have enough’ connections, skills, knowledge, confidence, remit and resources to address those issues when they arise
- referral relationships with legal services
- their views of lawyers, legal help and the legal system.
The survey received 146 responses (13%) from 70 services around the country, from peer support workers, support workers, managers and team leaders, and clinical staff. With analysis underway, we’ll soon be publishing some high-level preliminary results.