New Australian Government Drug Policy and Funding Announcements
ATODA eBulletin - www.atoda.org.au
 
On Sunday 6 December 2015, the Australian Government made several significant drug policy and funding announcements. This alert summarises the known information to date.


1.      State and Territory AOD Peaks Media Release

Ice Taskforce Report: 
Increased Commonwealth Investment in Specialist Treatment Sector Welcome

ATODA, ATCD, VAADA, NADA, QNADA, AAADNT, WANADA, SANDAS, 9 December 2015
 
The State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network welcome the Commonwealth’s commitment to inject $241.5 million into alcohol and other drug treatment services across Australia.  The commitment was the central piece of the Turnbull Government’s response to the National Ice Taskforce Final Report released on Sunday.
 
“We’re pleased the Turnbull Government has recognised the fact we can’t arrest our way out of this problem and shifted the focus of new investment into treatment and support services for those experiencing problems related to their methamphetamine use” said Larry Pierce, CEO of NADA.
 
“While there’s still a way to go to work through the detail of how the funding will be distributed, the network members are well placed to support the process and ensure the Australian community gets the best return on this investment” said Sam Biondo, Executive Officer of VAADA.
 
The report of a recent review of the AOD Treatment system in Australia was also released on Sunday and highlighted the return on investment, finding for every $1 invested in treatment services, more than $7 is returned to the community through health and social benefits.  The same report found current treatment services were unable to keep up with demand and suggested the number of treatment places should be increased.
 
“It just makes sense to ensure people experiencing problems are able to access the right types of support and treatment in a timely manner” said Rebecca MacBean, CEO of QNADA.  “Reducing demand for alcohol and drugs is a key component of our National Drug Strategy, one that has languished behind supply reduction. It is refreshing to see the government recognising the value of treatment and harm reduction”.
 
A detailed response from the AOD Peaks network can be found below.  For further comments, please contact:
 
Larry Pierce, CEO, NADA                               0411 747 106
Sam Biondo, EO, VAADA                               0414 974 121
Rebecca MacBean, CEO, QNADA                 0408 669 590


To download the media release, click here.



2.      State and Territory AOD Peaks Joint Statement
 
Statement about the release of the National ‘Ice’ Taskforce Report, release of two Review report and various announcements by the Australian Government
 

The Network of Australian State and Territory AOD Peak Bodies welcomes the release of the National ‘Ice’ Taskforce’s Final Report, and the release of the two reviews commissioned by the Australian Government (a) the Drug Policy Modelling Program’s New Horizons report and (b) the National Drug Research Institute’s Harnessing Good Intentions report.
 
The Network also welcomes the multiple announcements made by the Australian Government on 6 December, particularly with regards to increasing funding for specialist alcohol and drug services and the continuation of existing funding contracts until June 2017. However we are cautious given the lack of detail.
 
We strongly support the Taskforce’s view that ‘we can’t arrest our way out of this problem’ and the importance of having a greater focus and investment in the demand and harm reduction pillars of the National Drug Strategy.
 
The New Horizon report found that:
  • Demand for drug and alcohol treatment is at least double the available places. It is estimated that there is unmet demand for AOD treatment for between 200,000 and 500,000 people in any one year.
  • Drug and alcohol treatment works and is well grounded in evidence.
  • Drug and alcohol treatment is a good investment. For every $1 invested in alcohol and drug treatment society gains $7 in health and social benefits.
  • There is a relationship between funding processes and AOD treatment outcomes and longer contract terms should be pursued.
The Network has been calling on the Australian Government over recent months to take several actions as listed below. The recent announcements represent some important steps forward.
 
Action 1: Provide direct and increased recurrent funding for specialist alcohol and other drug services (including as a specific action in the National ‘Ice’ Strategy and the National Drug Strategy).
 

Comments on progress:
 
Increased funding for specialist AOD treatment services is welcomed however the scope and role of funding particularly for harm reduction services is unclear
  • We welcome the commitment to increase funding for specialist alcohol and drug services, we await detailed clarification of how this will be enacted.
  • Of the 38 recommendations in the National Ice Taskforce Report none mention harm reduction. This is not consistent with the three pillars approach of the National Drug Strategy.
 
Commissioning AOD treatment services through Primary Health Networks is a significant shift in Australian Government funding responsibility
  • The Australian Government has announced $241.5 million over four years for: “delivery of further treatment services, with commissioning of these services undertaken by Primary Health Networks [formerly known as Medicare Locals]… this includes funding to support the delivery of Indigenous-specific treatment services.”
  • In line with the recent announcement that contestable mental health services will be commissioned, not delivered, through the recently established Primary Health Networks (PHNs), the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a similar process for specialist AOD services. 
  • The Network is cautious in our response to this announcement, noting that while some PHNs are working effectively in some jurisdictions, many are yet to be fully established. 
  • Many specialist AOD services (a) provide state or region-wide services, and there is concern that a strategy that is primarily focused on local PHN boundaries may not effectively meet need (b) may not fit within, and provide more than, medical or primary health models (c) PHNs may not have existing relationships and these can take considerable time and effort to build and (d) and would then be moved from 1 (the Commonwealth) to 31 (the PHNs) commissioners with associated administrative costs and burdens.
  • The New Horizon report found:
    • “The second option is to use an existing planning framework. The Commonwealth could rely on plans developed by others. One idea we explored early in the project was the possibility that the Medicare Local planning process could be a springboard for the Commonwealth planning and specifically to assist with allocative funding decisions. Since that time, Medicare Locals have been subject to changes. Furthermore it became apparent that the Medicare Local planning option was not a well-supported by key informants, who were largely negative about their experiences of Medicare Local planning: it appears to remain highly variable across different agencies, there is little attention to alcohol or illicit drugs treatment in most Medicare Local plans and in those that do consider it, it is limited to alcohol and tobacco; and, finally, the focus for Medicare Local’s has been on primary healthcare – AOD treatment extends beyond primary health care. We do not consider this option further.” (p.273)
  • Primary Health Networks will need to embrace genuine partnership with the AOD sector to fully realize the potential of the increased funding provided by the Australian Government.
  • With reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific services, The Harnessing Good Intentions report found:
    • "Among some service providers, there is concern that community control is being undermined by top-down planning, exclusion ‚Ä®from decision-making processes, and contracting of service provision to non-Indigenous organisations.” 

Procurement processes
  • The Network notes that some funding has been directly provided to agencies through this announcement.
  • The Network would expect that distribution of the funding for specialist AOD services will have strong, evidence informed and transparent processes in place to ensure funds achieve the maximum benefit for Australian communities. 
  • As experts and representative bodies, the Network hopes to be involved in the development of any new commissioning and procurement models.

Importance of consulting with NGO treatment and harm reduction stakeholders
  • The Network notes that it was not consulted on the proposal to commission specialist AOD services through PHNs. The Network represents 435 organisations (primarily non-government), which includes 80% of organisations funded to provide AOD services by the Commonwealth.
  • We reiterate to the Australian Government the importance of engaging beyond the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (ANACAD) for expert advice.
  • The Network is seeking regular meetings with government and other representatives and hopes to be embedded within processes moving forward.
 
Action 2: Extend the current alcohol and other drug service contracts, which expire on 30 June 2016, with the Australian Government Department of Health and provide 5 year contract terms. The Federal funding in scope includes:
  • Non-Government Treatment Grants Program (NGOTGP)
  • Substance Misuse Service Delivery Grants Program (SMSDGF)
  • Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Program
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific AOD funding

Comment on progress:
  • We welcome the statement from Minister Nash that current Department of Health NGOTGP and SMSDGF contracts will be extended for 12 months. This provides a short-term reprieve and an opportunity for continuity of service provision and staff retention.
  • This is the second concurrent year that the Australian Government has chosen extend specialist AOD non-government contracts by a single year.
  • Specialist AOD services need security of tenure particularly given the changes in methamphetamine related harms and the often long term nature of problematic drug use. Five year contract terms are needed; this is consistent with the New Horizons report and developments in other jurisdictions.
  • Further information is needed on the amount of funding and the funding streams in scope, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AOD services which were moved away from the Department of Health to Prime Minister and Cabinet.
 
Action 3:
Publicly release the Australian Government commissioned (a) Review of the Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment Services Sector Report and the (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific Review Report.
 

Comment on progress:
  • We welcome the release of the Review of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Treatment Service Sector: Harnessing Good Intentions and congratulate the National Drug Research Institute for developing the report, particularly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and AOD services.
  • We welcome the release of the New Horizons: The Review of Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia and congratulate the Drug Policy Modeling Program for developing the report with the Australian AOD sector.
  • These reports provide an evidence-based framework for the State, Territory and Australian governments to determine future planned and coordinated funding models.
  • The Network hopes that these reports will inform the current and future decision-making by Australian governments, including through the Council of Australian Government discussions in December.
 
The Network will be meeting with Minister Nash and is seeking further information, particularly with regards to contract extensions and commissioning through the Primary Health Networks.
 
For further information please contact Carrie Fowlie, Executive Officer, ATODA on carrie@atoda.org.au. Download the joint statement here.


3.      About the State and Territory AOD Peaks Network
 

Our vision
 
An Australian community with the lowest possible levels of alcohol, tobacco and other drug related harm, as a result of the alcohol, tobacco and other drug sector’s evidence-informed prevention, treatment and harm reduction policies and services.
 

Who we are
 
The AOD Peaks Network comprises of all state and territory peak bodies:
  • Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA)
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania (ATDC)
  • Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies Northern Territory (AADANT)
  • Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (NADA)
  • Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (QNADA)
  • South Australian Network of Alcohol and Drug Services (SANDAS)
  • Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA)
  • Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA)
 
Our reach and who we represent
 
We provide a conduit for immediate access to alcohol and other drug services in all Australian jurisdictions. We represent at September 2014:
  • 435 organisations (primarily non-government), which includes 80% of organisations funded to provide AOD services by the Commonwealth;
  • All specialist treatment types (counselling, withdrawal, residential and non-residential rehabilitation, opiate replacement therapy) and harm reduction services;
  • $377,905,578 of State, Territory and Commonwealth AOD services funding investment; and
  • 80,000 Australians who receive an episode of care annually.


4.      National Ice Taskforce 

Release of the Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce
 
The Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce found that crystal methamphetamine use in Australia is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted response. Proportionally, Australia uses more methamphetamine than almost any other country, and the number of users continues to grow. Today, evidence suggests there are over 200,000 people who use crystal methamphetamine. In its Report, the Taskforce has made 38 recommendations across five areas of priority.
 
  1. The first priority must be supporting families, workers and communities to better respond to people affected by crystal methamphetamine.
  2. Efforts to reduce demand for ice through prevention activities must be strengthened.
  3. Crystal methamphetamine users need treatment and support services that cater to their needs.
  4. Efforts to disrupt supply must be more coordinated and targeted.
  5. Better data, more research and regular reporting is needed to strengthen Australia’s response and keep it on track.
 
The full report is available here.
 
  • None of the 38 recommendations refer to the third pillar of Australia’s National Drug Strategy: harm reduction.
  • The Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (ANACAD) is referred to throughout the document as an expert body.
  • ATODA has not had engagement with ANACAD since its establishment in December 2014 
 
Australian Government response to the National Ice Taskforce Final Report
 
The Australian Government’s response to the findings of the National Ice Taskforce has been to develop (in consultation with ANACAD) a package across five key areas:
  • Support for families and communities
  • Targeted prevention
  • Investment in treatment and workforce
  • Focused law enforcement
  • Better evidence and research
 
The package includes almost $300m in new funding. A two-page overview is provided here.


5.      Funding
 
New drug funding announced as part of the National ‘Ice’ Action Strategy
 
The Australian Government has committed to invest almost $300 million over four years to improve treatment, after care, education, prevention, support and community engagement to tackle methamphetamine.  The package over 4 years includes:
 
  • $241.5 million to be invested through the 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs), which will “use their local knowledge to boost the alcohol and other drug treatment sector and reduce demand for methamphetamines”.
  • An additional $13 million to introduce new MBS items for Addiction Medicine Specialists to increase the availability of treatment.
  • An additional $24.9 million “to help families and communities by providing the resources, information and support they need to respond to methamphetamines”. As part of this, Australian Government announced that it has directly provided additional funding to Life Education ($450,000) and the Australian Drug Foundation ($4.6 million); and it has allocated $15 million for a new advertising campaign aimed at educating young people.
  • An additional $18.8 million to establish “better research, evidence and guidelines on methamphetamines, including a new Centre for Clinical  Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern”.
The measures from this package are in addition to the current funding allocation of up to $310 million for treatment services.
 
  • We are seeking clarity as to what is constituted in the $310 million
 
For further information see the summary of announcements here.
 

Extension of existing specialist NGO drug services funding
 
Minister Nash has announced that Non-Government Treatment Grants Program (NGOTGP) and Substance Misuse Service Delivery Grants Fund (SMDSGF) grant recipients funding directly through the Department of Health will be extended until 30 June 2017.
  • State and Territory AOD Peaks (a) are meeting with Minister Nash and (b) have requested that the Department of Health provide written details of this announcement and for funded services to be directly informed as soon as possible.
 
6.      New Assistant Secretary
 

We would like to welcome and congratulate Lisa McGlynn as the new Assistant Secretary of the Drug Strategy Branch, Australian Department of Health, who began on 7 December 2015.
  • State and Territory AOD Peaks will be seeking a meeting with Ms McGlynn

7.      Report release: New Horizons
 
New Horizons: The Review of the drug and alcohol treatment services sector
Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW

The Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) has undertaken a strategic, whole of system review of the drug and alcohol treatment services sector (the Review). The Review final report identified a lack of clarity around the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments and a need for further analysis and feasibility work to be conducted collaboratively.

To download the Report, click here.
 

8.      Report release: Harnessing Good Intentions
 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Treatment Service Sector: Harnessing Good Intentions
National Drug Research Institute (NDRI)

This 2014 report reviews the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol, tobacco and other drug treatment service sector. This review was conducted as part of a wider review of alcohol and other drug prevention and treatment services. The report discusses the needs, gaps and priorities for treatment services, including funding, and planning for more effective treatment services provision.

To download the Report, click here.

9.      Media
 
Our sector
 
Ice Taskforce Report: 
Increased Commonwealth Investment in Specialist Treatment Sector Welcome

ATODA, ATCD, VAADA, NADA, QNADA, AAADNT, WANADA, SANDAS
The State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network welcome the Commonwealth’s commitment to inject $241.5 million into alcohol and other drug treatment services across Australia.  The commitment was the central piece of the Turnbull Government’s response to the National Ice Taskforce Final Report released on Sunday.
For more information: See the full media release

NADA congratulates the Australian Government on its response to the National Ice Taskforce report recommendations
Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (NADA), 7 December 2015 
The Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies congratulates the Australian Government on the release of its “Taking Action to Combat Ice” response. The Government has announced it will invest nearly 300 million dollars to improve treatment, after care, education and community engagement to assist people using and becoming dependent on methamphetamines and other drugs.
For more information: See the full media release

ATCA Media Release
Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association
The Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA), which represents organisations across Australia providing residential, day and outclient services to more than 24,000 people annually, today welcomed the release of the report from the National Ice Taskforce.  The announcement promises a total of $310 million to support treatment services, including $241 million which will be distributed through the Primary Health Networks (PHNs). 
For more information: See the full media release

VAADA Media Release
Victorian Alcohol & Drug Association (VAADA)
The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) welcomes the release of the Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce which has been submitted to the Australian Government.
The report contains a wide range of largely encouraging recommendations, which, if implemented, will demonstrate a strong commitment from government to address the harms associated with methamphetamine and other substances.
For more information: See the full media release



ACT
 
Ice taskforce report shifts focus from policing to treatment
Canberra Times, 3 December 2015
The federal government's ice taskforce has found rehabilitation services are well short of demand and has recommended governments invest more money in treatment and rehabilitations.
For more information: See the article
 
New building to provide extra bed for ice demand
Canberra Times, 5 December 2015
One of Canberra's frontlines in the fight against ice will soon have another bed for those seeking rehab.
For more information: See the article
 
Malcolm Turnbull pledges $300 million funding for drug treatment services
Canberra Times, 6 December 2015
Almost $300 million will be invested in the drug treatment sector as part of a new national plan that shifts focus from policing to prevention.
For more information: See the article
 
Capital Health Network: Leading treatment services in the ACT
Canberra Times, 3 December 2015 
The federal government's ice taskforce has found rehabilitation services are well short of demand and has recommended governments invest more money in treatment and rehabilitations.
For more information: See the full media release

 

National
 
 
A new action plan to tackle ice
Australian Government, 6 December 2015 
The Taskforce’s Report is a thorough analysis of Australia’s ice problem, and has provided a clear direction for both the Government’s response and the National Ice Action Strategy.
The response sets out a comprehensive package to reduce the demand for ice and reduce the harm it causes, while continuing efforts to disrupt supply.
For more information: See the full media release
 
Statement from Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash on calls to legalise the drug "ice"
6 December 2015 
“I’ve met addicts and recovering addicts in the past six months. I’ve looked into their eyes; and I’ve also met their mothers. I could never sleep at night knowing I’d been part of a government that legalised a substance which caused so much physical and mental pain… However, legalising the drug would send the message that ice is not dangerous. This is the wrong message to send. Legalising what is arguably the worst drug Australia has seen is madness…. A Coalition Government will never legalise a drug that destroys brain function, mental wellbeing, general health, employment, relationships, lives and families.”
For more information: See the full media release  

Ice crisis needs a new attack
Herald Sun, 6 December 2015
Ice is tearing this nation apart. It’s a big statement, but the facts contained in the National Ice Taskforce report to be released today don’t lie.
For more information: See the article

New plan to tackle the ice epidemic
Sky News, 6 December 2015
The Turnbull Government will unveil a new plan to tackle the ice epidemic.
For more information: See the article

Ice nation: $600m plan to break the evil ice epidemic gripping Australia
Daily Telegraph, 6 December 2015
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will use the final ­report of the National Ice Taskforce today to launch a $600 million plan to tackle the ice epidemic by targeting the more than 200,000 ­addicts and sending users to rehab.
For more information: See the article

Treatment and rehab focus in national ice taskforce response
Huffington Post, 6 December 2015
The Turnbull Government has moved to reduce demand and increase treatment and rehabilitation for the devastating drug ice in its formal response to the final report of the National Ice Taskforce.
For more information: See the article

Determined to shatter the ice problem
Huffington Post, 6 December 2015
When you've looked in the eyes of desperate mothers and fathers; addicts determined to turn their lives around; police dealing with the crime, fights and prostitution every day; and emergency services workers being called out to users who have been awake for days without eating and are now hallucinating -- the reality and gravity of the situation of Australia's ice situation is impossible to ignore.
For more information: See the article



 


Contact ATODA:

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Fax: (02) 6255 4649
Email: info@atoda.org.au
Mail: PO Box 7187,
Watson ACT 2602
Visit: 350 Antill St. Watson

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The Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA) is the peak body representing the non-government and government alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) sector in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ATODA seeks to promote health through the prevention and reduction of the harms associated with ATOD. 

Views expressed in the ACT ATOD Sector eBulletin do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT. Not all third-party events or information included in the eBulletin are endorsed by the ACT ATOD Sector or the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT. No responsibility is accepted by the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT or the editor for the accuracy of information contained in the eBulletin or the consequences of any person relying upon such information. To contact us please email ebulletin@atoda.org.au or call (02) 6255 4070.