Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service (WADS) training and education program

The Women's Alcohol and Drug Service (WADS) offers training, education and secondary consultation to health and care professionals across Victoria. 

All WADS training is delivered by senior, experienced clinicians from a range of clinical backgrounds including midwifery, social work, psychology, addiction medicine, obstetrics, neonatology and psychiatry. 

Program aim

To bring specialist knowledge and support to the management and care of women using drugs and alcohol during the perinatal period, and their infants.

Target audience for WADS training

Professionals working with women experiencing addiction in maternity settings, general health settings, AOD services, paediatric services, mental health services, parenting support services and Child Protection services.

Due to the sensitive nature of the educational presentations and case studies, these sessions are not appropriate for attendance by people who are not working in this space.

Topics covered

  • The impact of drug and alcohol use on pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting.

  • Drug and alcohol treatment options in pregnancy.

  • Perinatal mental health.

  • Trauma-informed care.

  • Mother-infant dyad - bonding and attachment.

WADS training offerings (fee-based)

WADS offers face-to-face training for groups of health and care professionals working with pregnant women using drugs and alcohol and their infants. 

This training is provided at the Royal Women’s Hospital (Parkville), and other locations in Victoria (as requested).

Training in 2024

The next round of in-person training offered at the Royal Women’s Hospital will start in the second half of 2024.

Stay tuned for more details about upcoming sessions and fees. Please note: onsite training is free of charge for staff of the Women’s.

If you don't work at the Women’s and your team is interested in engaging WADS for in-person or online training, please email: wads@thewomens.org.au

We will be happy to discuss training options and fees with you.

WADS training offerings (free)

WADS offers free online training via the Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes).

Project ECHO is a guided practice model that revolutionises medical education and exponentially increases workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. 

It’s a low-cost, high-impact intervention accomplished by linking inter-disciplinary specialist teams in rural and regional areas with multiple primary care clinicians through ‘teleECHO’ programs.

The model provides front-line clinicians with the support they need to manage patients with complex conditions, such as drug and alcohol use in pregnancy. For more information, visit the Project Echo website.  

Our ECHO sessions are:

  • free to access
  • delivered during live video sessions, accessed easily via Zoom software
  • a blend of didactic and case-based learning.
  • facilitated by our expert Hub team and attended by participants from sites all over Victoria.
  • multi-disciplinary in nature and underpinned by an 'All Teach, All Learn' philosophy.
  • interactive; participants are expected to take an active part.
Who should attend?

These sessions are suitable for professionals working with women using drugs and alcohol in the maternity or health setting, general health settings, AOD services, paediatric services and mental health services.

Due to the sensitive nature of the educational presentations and case studies, these sessions are not appropriate for attendance by non-health or care professionals.

What is covered in the sessions?

Each session includes an educational presentation by an expert from the field.

Case presentations by participating clinicians are also a cornerstone of the ECHO model. All participants are encouraged to present a case they are working with and would like to discuss with the Hub and other participants. Case studies can be from any time in the perinatal period but must be related to alcohol and drug use. 

Case presentations do not need to be related to the educational presentation. The reasoning behind this is to encourage participants to present a current case where they would benefit from the expertise of other health professionals.

Presentations are always followed by an open Q&A and discussion, with takeaway recommendations from our specialist team.

How often are sessions held?

WADS hosts four ECHO sessions per school term covering a range of topics related to supporting families impacted by drug and alcohol use in pregnancy.

ECHO sessions are not recorded and participants must attend on the day to participate.

If you’d like to register for upcoming sessions, please email wads@thewomens.org.au

Certification and credits for ECHO

All ECHO sessions contribute to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Participants attending a session will be eligible for one hour of CPD, and where a case is presented, two hours of CPD.

This arrangement has been approved by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Participants will be able to self-generate attendance certificates on iECHO.