Coffee With…Dr Tamsin Short: Connect4Health

What is Connect4Health? Describe your role as Executive Director, Drug and Alcohol Services?
My position is a unique role working across three community health services (Access Health and Community, Carrington Health and Link Health and Community) to develop the alcohol and other drug (AOD) services to deliver a holistic, integrated service within the community health model. I’ve had the opportunity to work on new projects, such as The First Stop , as well as overseeing the development and implementation of our new Medication Support and Recovery Service.

Tell us about The First Stop. Why have you developed this website?
The First Stop was developed to support families who are affected by someone else’s use of alcohol or other drugs. Families often tell us that they feel isolated and are confused about how to ‘navigate the system’ and get help for themselves and their family member. The initiative was partially funded by the Victorian Ice Action Plan Family Support Service funding. We hope that it will literally be “the first stop” for families who are seeking information, support and a place to go for help.

What is the Medication Support and Recovery Service?
The Medication Support and Recovery Service (MSRS) is a new specialist assessment and treatment service for people who are dependent on or misusing prescription and over-the-counter medications. We know that 80% of fatal overdoses involve medications, yet many people do not seek help within traditional “drug and alcohol services” so we have developed a new service which is based in community health and focusses specifically on medication dependence and misuse. The MSRS is funded by the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN) and will be delivered across the East and North East of Melbourne – for more information, contact us at 9810 3035 or 9810 3084.

What sort of work were you doing prior to starting at Connect4Health?
I worked at Access Health and Community (formerly known as Inner East Community Health Service) as the AOD Manager for two years, and prior to that worked as an AOD counsellor in the service. Before that I worked in forensic mental health – but my interest and passion has always been with AOD work.

What excites and motivates you in your role?
Being able to develop new services for the community – particularly to support people with complex AOD and mental health problems who aren’t currently engaged with treatment services and may be feeling lost or confused. I’m excited to be part of creating new services and treatment options and helping to break down some of the stigma and barriers for people to access AOD services.

What strengths do you see in the Inner East Community?
The Inner East community is an area with many ‘hidden’ challenges, and I see a lot of dedicated and creative agencies and staff who work tirelessly to ensure that the community are well supported. There’s a lot of great collaboration and a focus on what’s best for the clients and community (rather than what’s best for the agency) – I think the Connect4Health model is a good example of this.

Oh, and there are loads of excellent cafes and lunch spots!!

What kind of a cuppa do you brew when you sit down at your desk in the morning?
I don’t drink coffee but am mad about tea – my favourite is a very unusual tea called Lapsang Souchong – it’s a very smoky flavour which I’m told is an ‘acquired taste’! I also love Korean corn tea and chai 🙂

If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?
Probably some of the leaders who are in power (looking right at you, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un…)


We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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