The Sydney MSIC commenced operation in May 2001 for a trial period of 18-months. The initial evaluation covered the period May 2001 to October 2002. Following consideration of the results of the evaluation, the trial was extended to October 2007 and the NSW Health Department commissioned the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR) to undertake a second evaluation covering the period November 2002 to April 2007. The current evaluation is directed by a comprehensive evaluation protocol and overseen by an Advisory Committee.
To date, the second evaluation phase has included an analysis of operation and service delivery data from November 2002 to December 2004 and an assessment of community attitudes towards the Sydney MSIC based on repeated cross-sectional telephone surveys with local residents and business owners. This third report from the second evaluation phase relates to the second objective in establishing the Sydney MSIC, namely, that the service may facilitate access to drug treatment for some injecting drug users (IDUs). Although the NSW Minimum Data Set for Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services indicates that self-referral is the most common means of accessing treatment (43% of drug and alcohol clients treated during 2002/03 self-referred), a range of social, structural, institutional and personal barriers to treatment access exist among illicit drug users, and the importance of identifying new referral mechanisms is clear. Accordingly, this report examines Sydney MSIC client referrals and health, extending the work conducted during the Phase 1 evaluation.