In 1994, the Victorian Government announced the reform of alcohol and drug services in Victoria, encompassing a time of transition from large psychiatric institutions to treatment services based in the community. This change in service delivery included a recommendation to establish a statewide centre to provide leadership in treatment, research and education. Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre was subsequently established, and opened in May 1995. The service operated from a small building in Smith Street Collingwood, in the heart of the heroin problem Victoria was facing at the time.
In mid-1996, Turning Point moved in to a new purpose-built facility at 54-62 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The unique blend of clinical work, research and education resulted in significant growth across the organisation, with subsequent years seeing the addition of two more sites along the street. Turning Point became known as a national leader in clinical innovation and clinical trials, and was at the forefront of developing education programs that helped build the expertise of the growing addiction workforce.
One major area of expansion was the growth in telephone support services provided for Victoria and other jurisdictions across Australia, including specialist advice to GPs and pharmacists, as well as services and research focused on problem gambling. During this time, Turning Point established itself as a leader in health service and drug policy research, and a pioneer in the delivery of online text-based support services, epidemiology and population-level health surveillance.
In October 2009, Turning Point amalgamated with Eastern Health and established a formal partnership with Monash University, further strengthening its position within the broader health system and academia.
The amalgamation with Eastern Health led to a growth in addiction clinical services across its eastern catchment, including a dedicated community withdrawal service and consultation liaison support to the hospital system. Another phase of state reform in 2013-14 saw Turning Point lead the formation of the Eastern Consortium of Alcohol and Drug Services to provide assessment and treatment services across the eastern region of metropolitan Melbourne.
In early 2018, Turning Point moved its operations in Fitzroy to Church Street, Richmond. This provided the opportunity to bring operations of the three sites in Fitzroy under one roof and relocation to an area which had become a hot-spot for drug activity. This period also saw the establishment of Victoria’s first hospital-based enhanced withdrawal service and opening of a new short-stay rehabilitation program.
Turning Point has seen a significant expansion of services to include more than 20 telehealth support lines Australia-wide, a broad range of treatment and specialist services employing innovative models, and a partnership with Monash University. This partnership has seen the development of an international Master of Addictive Behaviours program, a national mental health and suicide surveillance system and the establishment of the Monash Addiction Research Centre.
From its beginnings to present day, Turning Point continues to maintain a clear focus on innovation and excellence across the areas of treatment, research and education, enabling us to drive change in policy and practice. In doing so, it ensures that we can continue to build hope, save lives and help transform the lives of the many Australians affected by addiction.