​These FAQs summarise the Opioid Overdose Response and Take Home Naloxone program and may be useful when seeking senior management support to participate in the program. 

Last updated: 06 April 2020

What is the Opioid Overdose Response and Take Home Naloxone (ORTHN) program?

The NSW Opioid Overdose Response and Take Home Naloxone program trains, credentials and legally authorises a broad range of health and welfare workers, other than prescribers and pharmacists, to supply naloxone to clients for free and without a prescription. 

The program was developed, piloted and evaluated by clinical and subject matter experts, in consultation with consumers. It is being implemented across NSW in public health drug and​ alcohol treatment services and needle and syringe programs.

The program is being extended so that non-government organisations (NGOs), private agencies and sole traders that provide health/welfare services can become ‘Registered ORTHN Sites’ and supply naloxone to people at risk of witnessing or experiencing opioid overdose.

What is take home naloxone and why is it important?

Opioid overdose is a major cause of harm and death in Australia. Every day, three people die from drug-induced deaths involving opioid use in Australia, while nearly 150 hospitalisations and 14 emergency department admissions involve opioids[1]. More than 110,000 Australians are currently experiencing opioid dependence[2]. In 2018, 1,740 people died from drug-induced deaths, with opioids present in 1,123 of those deaths (64%)[3].

Naloxone is a Schedule 3 short-acting opioid antagonist medicine registered in Australia for the reversal of opioid overdose. The National Drug Strategy 2017-2026 and the World Health Organisation have identified increasing access to naloxone as an evidence-based strategy for preventing and responding to opioid overdoses.

What will registered ORTHN sites be provided with?

Free workforce training, assessment and credentialing:

Eligible health and welfare workers must be credentialed before they can supply naloxone to clients. A registered training organisation will train employees remotely across NSW, expected to commence May 2020. Training, assessment and credentialing is delivered at face-to-face workshops that run for half a day. 

Free product supply

The Australian Government is funding the cost of naloxone supplied for free to eligible community members until February 2021. Product access options will be reviewed after that time.

What will registered ORTHN sites be expected to contribute?

Staffing resources

No additional funding will be provided for costs associated with delivering brief interventions to clients when providing naloxone, undertaking reporting, or for their time in completing the training workshop. 

Monthly reporting

Agencies will need to enter supply and brief intervention data using an online portal.

Which NGOs and private services are eligible to participate?

To be eligible to participate in the ORTHN program, the agency must be either a ‘Non-Government Organisation’/‘NGO’ or ‘private service provider’. The agency must also:

  1. Agree to be listed on NSW Ministry of Health website.Some services may supply naloxone to any eligible person, while others may choose to only supply to existing clients.
  2. Agree to supply naloxone intervention data using an online portal.
  3. Provide services to people at risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose.
  4. Employ an eligible workforce. Only certain types of workers can get trained and credentialed. Relevant worker designations include nurse, psychologist, social worker, counsellor, manager, director, alcohol and other drugs worker, health education officer and community support worker. A full list of eligible workers is published in the procedures.
  5. Ensure compliance with procedures and legal requirements. A Legal Authority enables eligible, trained and credentialed workers to legally supply naloxone. Workers must comply with the program Procedures. The agency must support its workers to comply and sign a Letter of Agreement with the NSW Ministry of Health.
  6. Have governance structures in place to meet naloxone storage, labelling and record keeping requirements.The agency must have governance structures in place to ensure naloxone storage, labelling and record keeping requirements are met.

How do NGOs and private services get involved?

The NSW Ministry of Health is seeking  Expressions of Interest (EOI) from private service providers and NGOs to become Registered ORTHN Sites. The EOI is non-competitive. Many service providers will become Registered ORTHN Sites through this process.

Download the expression of interest form and submit it by email to: moh-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au as soon as possible to secure training places.


  1. Australian Government Department of Health website (Retrieved 10 Jan 2020) health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/take-home-naloxone-pilot/about-the-take-home-naloxone-pilot#why-is-the-take-home-naloxone-pilo​t-important.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
Page Updated: Monday 6 April 2020
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health