A sample of our current and recent projects is shown below.


Residential Withdrawal – Medical Model Review

Client: Windana

Along with a suite of other AOD programs, Windana offers residential withdrawal services for adults and young people. The Adult Residential Withdrawal Service is a 15-bed facility in St Kilda and the Windana Youth Community House, in Dandenong, has six beds. 

This project was a review of the medical service delivery model at Windana’s residential withdrawal services. The project aims were to:

1. Review current practice regarding client access to medical services during residential withdrawal

2. Identify and describe one or more evidence-based models to enhance medical services during residential withdrawal

TRACE Research used a multiple methods approach and worked closely with senior staff at Windana to enable project implementation. We gather and critically analysed information to provide directions regarding a medical services model for Windana’s residential withdrawal services.


Alcohol and other Drugs Planning Project

 Client: Murray Primary Health Network 

This project was about alcohol and other drug (AOD) service planning in Murray PHN. Victoria’s AOD system is in a phase of substantial growth and it is timely to consider the focus of Murray PHN’s investment in the region’s AOD services in the context of state developments, to maximise the benefits from this investment. 

The aim of this project was to prepare a high level, AOD state of play document that brings together evidence, key policy positions and current and emerging priorities from State and Commonwealth Governments and peak associations. From within this context, the intent of the document was to position the role and influence of the PHN, recognising specific obligations to:

  • Commission drug and alcohol treatment services targeting areas of need; and
  • Improve the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment services through improved co-ordination between sectors and collaborative approaches that reflect service/system capabilities and client need. 

The project involved: 

  1. Examining Commonwealth, Victorian, and Murray PHN policies and technical documents
  2. Three key stakeholder consultations with representatives from government health departments and from the peak body for AOD services in Victoria
  3. A workshop with Murray PHN to outline findings and consider possible directions 


Systemic Family Work with young people experiencing AOD related problems in a rural context: Evaluation of trial program

Client: Youth Support & Advocacy Service (YSAS)

The Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) is a large, multi-site agency that provides a range of programs to enable young people experiencing serious disadvantage to access the resources and support they require to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. With more than 330 staff, YSAS operates across many sites that are located throughout Victoria.

This project was an evaluation of a trial program that involves a Family Work-focused approach (‘the program’) to youth alcohol and other drug (AOD) service provision. The program trial was in the Bendigo area.

The evaluation addressed the following question:

  • Does a family-focused approach to youth AOD work improve outcomes for young people?

The project had both process and outcome elements and it focuses at client and system levels. In brief, the project assessed:

1. Client level outcomes

2. Regional system impacts (workforce development, service networks)

The project involved a collaborative approach between YSAS and TRACE Research. Following an initial planning workshop and approval from an HREC ethics committee, data collection included the examination of clinical records, interviews with clients, and a workforce survey. A final report has been delivered and a plain language summary is available from YSAS.


Developing a process for a new AOD model of care in the North West Metro Primary Health Network

Client: North West Metro Primary Health Network (NWMPHN)

The NWMPHN area includes a large and diverse set of AOD services. The AOD program team at NWMPHN plans to develop and implement a new AOD model of care, for delivery from 1 July 2019.

The team is committed to engaging relevant stakeholders and co-designing an approach that improves outcomes for service users, families and the broader community.

TRACE Research met with the team in early 2018 to explore previously identified issues in AOD service delivery and system design and to begin planning a way forward. Our focus was on creating a framework to guide the project design so key questions could be addressed, leading to directions for the new AOD model of care. We put forward a project logic structure that would assist in clarifying the parameters of the work and the steps involved.



 Regional co-design alcohol and other drugs Great South Coast sub-region project 

Client: Western Victoria Primary Health Network

TRACE Research worked with Brophy Family and Youth Services on co-design activities to develop an AOD model of care for the Great South Coast. The Western Victoria Primary Health Network commissioned this project.

A core group of services, the Great South Coast AOD Regional Co-Design Project Sub-Committee (the Project Team) was established to guide the project. The Project Team included service providers with expertise in the design, management and delivery of health and social programs to young people and adults in the Great South Coast and an expert in AOD service and system research. Member organisations included: 

  • Brophy Family and Youth Services
  • Portland District Health
  • South West Health Care
  • Victorian Department of Health and Human Services
  • Western Region Alcohol and other Drug Centre
  • Western Victoria Primary Health Network
  • TRACE Research 

The Project Team provided guidance regarding:

  • Key documents for the review
  • Contacts, networks, and groups to target for consultations
  • Insights on AOD problems and responses in the sub-region, including pockets of high unmet need and vulnerable groups
  • Constructive feedback on draft outputs from the project to improve the accuracy, relevance and clarity of these outputs


Alcohol and other drug consumer, carer and community engagement

Team: Lynda Berends (TRACE Research, lead) and Jen Rose (Well Chosen Words)

Client: Murray Primary Health Network

This project was about community participation. The core aim was to identify good practice in consumer participation for integration with broader primary health care sector engagement. We described the policy context, explored current practice, consulted with key informants, and developed a discussion paper highlighting appropriate models for consumer participation in the Murray PHN.

Alcohol and other drug workforce development 

Team: Lynda Berends (TRACE Research, lead), Sue Carswell (Carswell Consultancy) and Jen Rose (Well Chosen Words)

Client: Murray Primary Health Network 

The Murray Primary Health Network (PHN) operates from an area of almost 100,000 square kilometres, in North West Victoria. This area is home to more than 644,000 people. The Murray PHN has offices in Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura and Albury. 

This project was about building workforce capacity in the area, for the provision of skilful and well-informed responses to people with alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems. The core aim of the project was to design and develop a training plan for the Murray PHN. There were two main components: a desktop review aligning the findings of a local needs analysis with current knowledge about training for health professionals and health practitioners, and a training plan that included advice regarding implementation. We reviewed technical and academic literature, consulted with key informants, and considered findings in context to identify directions for AOD workforce development in the region.


Process review of Odyssey House New South Wales’s residential rehabilitation program

Client: Odyssey House New South Wales

Odyssey House New South Wales (OH NSW) has been in operation for more than 40 years and it is timely to review service operations as part of an ongoing cycle of renewal and improvement. In addition, a series of changes that include the development of a hub and spoke design for OH NSW’s community services provides an opportunity to learn from existing good practice and to explore better ways to deliver services.

This project focused on the residential rehabilitation program at OH NSW. The program operates from three sites that have discrete, overlapping functions. They include: admissions and intake at Redfern; assessment and referral at Ingleburn; and structured treatment at Eagle Vale. The program provides for adult clients and includes a specialist program for parents with children.

The aim of this project was to review how the OH NSW residential rehabilitation program functions and to develop recommendations for program improvement based on standards and evidence within the sector. Lynda synthesised findings from the analysis of staff perspectives, program documents, and aggregate client data to develop recommendations for positive change.

Alcohol and other drug treatment funding, purchasing and workforce: empirical analyses to inform policy

Research team: Alison Ritter (lead), Timothy Dobbins, Jenny Chalmers, Michael Livingston, Lynda Berends & Harvey Whiteford

Supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council

Lynda is pleased to be part of the research team for a three year project that involves examining the way in which governments fund, purchase and structure the alcohol and other drug treatment service system. This project will test the relationship between the current system and treatment outcomes. Professor Alison Ritter, who heads up the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the University of New South Wales, is the lead researcher on the project. Alison has explained that the project involves creating “a new, unique research infrastructure resource that will be able to be used by other research teams and governments to continually advance knowledge in the alcohol and drug treatment service systems”.

Data collection and analysis are now complete and a number of academic publications are in train.


Service planning and workforce development in regional Victoria

Client: Western Region Alcohol and other Drug Centre (WRAD)

Victoria’s alcohol and other drug services were subject to major reform in 2014 and the system continues to evolve. TRACE Research is working with WRAD to explore service development in this dynamic environment. Our approach involves working closely with management to detail options for future development given community needs and policy priorities.

In the first stage of this project, TRACE Research established the need for a local residential rehabilitation service based on characteristics of the region’s client population and the limited number of regional clients accessing statewide residential rehabilitation services in recent years. The next stage of the project involved addressing questions about reasons for the lack of access to statewide services using data on referrals and treatment pathways, as well as exploring possibilities for the establishment of a local service.

In response to this identified need, the local community launched a fund-raising campaign to support the establishment of a local residential rehabilitation centre that has been named The Lookout. The community has shown strong commitment to the centre, raising substantial funds for capital works. Further work on planning and community consultation is underway.

AOD workforce development was also a major focus in stage one of this project and Lynda explored the needs of local professionals in sectors likely to come into contact with people experiencing alcohol and other drug problems. Lynda identified the knowledge and skills professionals require to engage constructively with their clients regarding AOD concerns, including the provision of information regarding treatment options where this is appropriate. Lynda worked with others on the development of an appropriate workforce development model for the region.

Project evaluation: supporting healthy lifestyle choices through social media

Client: GippSport

Deadly Sport Gippsland is a health promotion project that has been funded by the Victorian Department of Health as part of the Koolin Balit strategy. It is auspiced by GippSport, a not-for-profit organisation that operates throughout the Gippsland region. Deadly Sport Gippsland aims to encourage and support positive lifestyle change among the Gippsland Aboriginal community by promoting sporting role models, activities and events using social media.

TRACE Research worked in collaboration with Deadly Sport Gippsland staff to evaluate this initiative, focusing particularly on project feasibility and effectiveness. We explored capacity building activities and assessed the impact of two social marketing campaigns about chronic disease prevention / delay. Our collaborative approach involved contributing to project improvement as the Deadly Sport Gippsland project evolved and documenting the capacity building and social marketing model that has been developed. For more information on Deadly Sport Gippsland go to or visit them on Facebook.

The final report for the evaluation is available from Deadly Sport Gippsland’s website, along with a 2-page summary of key findings. To learn more, please go to and follow the links.

Program development: Planning and implementation tools for newly funded alcohol and other drug services

Client: Victorian AIDS Council

The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has been funded by the Victorian Department of Health, to provide specialist alcohol and other drug Counselling and Care and Recovery Coordinator Services across a number of areas in Melbourne.

TRACE Research developed planning and operational materials to support service implementation. First, we did some preparatory work based on VAC materials and Department of Health policy documents to learn about the policy and practice contexts for the new services. We also had a series of informal meetings and conversations with VAC management and staff, to learn about other VAC programs and service networks. An evaluation workshop involved talking with staff from a range of counselling and support services at VAC. The materials we developed are designed to assist in the development of policy and procedures, as well as other documents to operationalise VAC’s alcohol and other drug services. This includes a description of the service model and the operational structure. There is also a map of client pathways in VAC and involving other services and systems. We made suggestions about integrating data collection into service operations and we developed a straightforward framework for service monitoring and evaluation.

Service evaluation: alcohol and other drug withdrawal

Client: two non-government organisations in Victoria’s Southern Metropolitan health region

We analysed service data to review the alcohol and other drug withdrawal services provided by two organisations in Melbourne. A profile of the client group was developed, addressing demographics and primary drugs of concern. We used this information to draw conclusions about service performance regarding equity of access and to identify target groups for service development.

We have been very happy with the work completed by Lynda at TRACE Research. We are sure to be in touch again.
Andrew Bruun

CEO Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS)


Lynda Berends 

0414 971 570

TRACE Research

PO Box 53
Meeniyan VIC 3956

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