Te Ara Oranga, an initiative aimed at reducing the hold that methamphetamine has in Northland, won the Cedric Kelly Supreme Award at the 2018 Northland Health and Social Innovation awards in Whangārei last week.

The bi-annual awards, a collaboration between the Northland DHB, NorthAble Disability Services, Manaia Health and Te Tai Tokerau PHOs, are designed to celebrate and profile quality, innovation and integration across the health and social sectors in Te Tai Tokerau.

Te Ara Oranga also won the Collaboration Award which recognises outstanding examples of collaboration within departments in the health service and between primary and secondary services that have contributed to service improvements or better health outcomes.

It is a joint initiative between the DHB and the police, aimed at reducing demand for methamphetamine by enhancing clinical treatment services and increasing responsiveness.

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The model enables the police to refer people using the drug to treatment, with referral times reduced from two to three weeks to 24-48 hours. Pou whānau Connectors and Whānau Groups work in the community to support users, with a focus on placing people into jobs or work training to encourage a positive future.

Dedicated methamphetamine-focused clinicians work across Northland to ensure early intervention screening in hospital emergency departments.

As at the end of September, the programme had recorded 68 arrests, seizure of 25 firearms, 62 search warrants, 23 reports of concern for 53 children, 208 police referrals to the DHB for treatment, screening of 2601 people in emergency departments, management of 681 cases by methamphetamine-focused clinicians, 67 new referrals to Employment Works and 23 people placed in work.

Awards were presented in five categories, highlighting successful projects, groups and individuals from community and iwi, general practice, government and non-government agencies, with the emphasis on projects bridging the gap between health inequities, particularly for Māori.

"Addressing the issues and putting systems and people in place to acknowledge the work that needs to be achieved is a huge step forward to improving the overall health of our region and the future of our people," a DHB spokesman said.

"Celebrating innovation was a key element of the awards, with project winners being acknowledged for their contribution to social good, creating social wellbeing for Māori and improving social outcomes.

"The innovative initiatives that won their categories were acknowledged because these successful projects were formulated to reach the community in a way that people buy into them, which leads towards improving health statistics, reducing hospital admissions and lengths of stay in hospitals, and our people being educated to make healthy lifestyle choices for a better future."