Restored ANCD Archive
The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) is the principal advisory body to the Prime Minister and Federal Government on drug and alcohol policy and plays a critical role in ensuring the views of the many sectors involved in addressing drug and alcohol problems, as well as the community, are heard.
The ANCD membership for the 2011-2014 term was announced in 2011 by the Prime Minister and includes people from the non government and government drug, alcohol and related sectors including treatment, medicine, research, law enforcement, Indigenous health, local government, education, mental health, consumers, and the magistracy from around Australia. The full membership can be found at: ANCD Members
The ANCD met in Hobart in late October 2013. This meeting was preceded by a consultation forum with people who work to address drug and alcohol issues. The forum was attended by 40-50 people and included presentations from Ms Jann Smith (CEO, Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania – ATDC) and Ms Sylvia Engels (Manager, Policy Development, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Directorate, Department of Health and Human Services).
Matters discussed during the forum included:
- The lack of a specific drug services consumer group in Tasmania and a perceived lack of consultation with actual consumers although there was acknowledgement on the funding of a broader consumer advocacy group and the crucial importance of drug consumer voices in drug policy processes.
- There were a number of issues surrounding opioid pharmacotherapy treatment in Tasmania. Whilst some noted that the program did not currently utilise all its allocated places, there was also a strong view that demand is high for treatment. In trying to understand this apparent contradiction discussion went to possible barriers to the program. It was also noted that there are reports of negative attitudes toward pharmacotherapy clients; a shortfall of practitioners in Tasmania generally, a need for more GPs and pharmacists to engage in the program and inflexibility in the program model. A need for a shared solution between all involved and affected parties was highlighted, with examples of models from other jurisdictions noted.
- The general lack of access to AOD treatment, and opioid pharmacotherapy specifically, in the prison system was also raised as an issue, as well as the need for prisoners upon release to be able to access community based programs to continue with treatment.
- Representatives from the Department of Health & Human Services acknowledged some of these issues and advised of their current efforts to try and overcome these barriers.
- The higher rates of tobacco use in Tasmania in comparison to national rates.
- Issues of poverty and lower socioeconomic status overall in Tasmania, and their links to higher risk and increased drug and alcohol related problems.
- The opportunities afforded by the large number of projects currently being undertaken at the Federal level on the future of AOD interventions and services in Australia were noted. With a particular focus on the need for these projects to link up to each other. The issue of ‘review fatigue’ in the sector was also raised by some.
- The potential impact of recent reductions in the level of needle and syringe program services being offered in Tasmania.
- The current gaps in services in Tasmania, such as in the availability of residential treatment services for women, women with children, and young people.
- The apparent increase in methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the general lack of engagement and information on the needs of Indigenous communities.
- The impact on staffing within AOD sector (and other community services) as a result of the vulnerable people checks legislation.
- The current review of the Liquor Licensing Act and how this may afford an important opportunity to address harms associated with alcohol use.
- The inquiry into alternatives to youth detention, which currently accounts for a high proportion of the youth justice budget, and the opportunities for justice reinvestment based approaches
- The diminishing resources within the sector, and the effects this is already having on client access to services, as well as the health practitioner, administrative and policy workforce which were considered to be worsening over time.