PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia cannot “arrest its way to success” and local health professionals will get most of the $300 million in new funding to tackle the ice scourge.
BACKING all 38 recommendations of the National Ice Taskforce, the federal government is putting an extra $297 million towards drug treatment, after care, education and other community-based preventive measures.
The new funding is on top of the current $310 million for treatment services
The Turnbull Government has release a new action plan to tackle ice
via the National Ice Taskforce Final 249 page Report and
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.
Just one second, Fiona is going to address the, you asked about the regions and that is very important, Fiona is going to address the indigenous component in this package.
I did flag in my earlier remarks that is part of the $241.5 million going to treatment services, we will have a specific focus on indigenous treatment services. We need to make sure that they have culturally appropriate treatment services in place.
So, while we will be doing this through the primary health networks, there is a very strong expectation that the PHNs will work very very closely with the Aboriginal community controlled health sector in how we ensure those treatment services are appropriate. I have already spoken to the sector about this, to the head of NACCHO, Matt Cooke, and also my adviser on the Advisory Council, Ted Wilkes, about ensuring that we work very very closely with the sector to make sure that we get those indigenous treatment services right.
In its Report, the Taskforce has made 38 recommendations across five areas of priority.
- The first priority must be supporting families, workers and communities to better respond to people affected by ice.
- Efforts to reduce demand for ice through prevention activities must be strengthened.
- Ice users need treatment and support services that cater to their needs.
- Efforts to disrupt supply must be more coordinated and targeted.
- Better data, more research and regular reporting is needed to strengthen Australia’s response and keep it on track.
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.
Proportionally, Australians use more methamphetamine, including ice, than almost any other country. Evidence suggests that there are well over 200,000 ice users in Australia.
Ice is an extremely powerful stimulant and it is causing significant harm to our community, disproportionate to that caused by other drugs.
The Government has already made significant investment in policing our borders and our streets to combat the supply of ice.
The weight of ice seized at the Australian border grew almost 60 times between 2010 and 2014 and police made record busts and 26,000 arrests for possession or distribution of amphetamine-type stimulants in 2013-14.
The National Ice Taskforce made it clear that we cannot arrest our way out of the ice problem – we must also work to reduce the demand for this drug.
The Government will invest almost $300 million over four years to improve treatment, after care, education, prevention, support and community engagement to tackle ice. The package 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 ice.
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 ice.
An additional $18.8 million to establish better research, evidence and guidelines on ice, including a new Centre for Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern.
The Government understands that local knowledge is best. That is why our local Primary Health Networks will work with communities to determine what form of treatment will be most effective in each local area.
Given the close correlation between mental health and drug abuse, we have closely aligned delivery of drug and alcohol treatment services with the delivery of mental health packages through PHNs.
Ensuring that indigenous-specific treatment services and culturally appropriate mainstream treatment services are available for Indigenous Australians will be a key priority.
The package also includes significant investment in rural and regional areas, where the Taskforce Report indicated service gaps and a misalignment between service priorities and community need.
The measures from the package will form part of the new National Ice Action Strategy, which will be considered by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments at the next COAG meeting.
For more information about the National Ice Taskforce, including the Final Report, go to http://www.pmc.gov.au/ice
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT WON’T MAKE UP FOR TREATMENT SERVICE CUTS
Labor welcomes the Government’s announcement that new funds will be directed towards rehabilitation and grass roots responses to help communities get on top of ice.
However, the Government needs to confirm that this new money won’t be sourced from cuts to existing drug and alcohol programs.
In its first two budgets the Abbott-Turnbull Government slashed funds and plunged the sector into chaos by failing to fund services until the 11th hour.
Close to $800 million cut from the Health Flexible Funds including funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
Mishandling of NGO treatment grants for a sector already struggling to meet demand with funding only extended at the very end of the financial year and then for just twelve months leading to an urgent funding crisis.
Labor’s spokesperson for alcohol and other drugs policy, Stephen Jones, today called on the Turnbull Liberal Government to listen to the experts.
“The release of the National Ice Taskforce report today will no doubt prove uncomfortable reading for the Abbott-Turnbull Government.
“The head of the Taskforce Ken Lay has stated that throwing more and more people in jail isn’t a real solution. We need to invest in treatment services, the very services that have been abandoned by an out-of-touch Liberal Government.
David Feeney, Shadow Minister for Justice, said that the report supported Labor’s call for a greater integration of justice and public health systems.
“Despite the best efforts of officers on the ground, law enforcement efforts have actually failed to halt the supply of ice even though there have been increased seizure and arrests rates.
“The wholesale price of ice has fallen over the past year in Australia.
“That is why the Government needs to end their disdain for treatment services and enable a strong health-based approach to complement law enforcement efforts.”
Action is needed to help the workers on the frontline doing their best with one arm tied behind their backs.
10th anniversary of ‘Close the Gap’ campaign in March 2016 Travelling Exhibition
Negotiations are underway to launch the CTG exhibition at Parliament House Canberra on the Anniversary next year and then make the portable exhibition available to participating members and affiliates to hold their own state based events.
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in partnership with Wayne Quilliam Photography has developed a visual narrative that exists to foster awareness, exploration and understanding of Indigenous health and well-being.
The exhibition of 24 photographic images, melded with a series of video interviews embedded within the images will stimulate individual thinking and dialogue relating to the 10th anniversary of ‘Close the Gap’ campaign in March 2016.
The exhibition offers valuable insight into the workings of Indigenous health including the social, economic and cultural impact of organisations and individuals.
The exhibition will also be offered to other major Aboriginal and Health conferences who wish to celebrate Aboriginal Health and Close the Gap.