The Alcohol and Other Drugs System in Australia
The alcohol and other drugs system in Australia (as at March 2020) involves the government, non-government (not for profit, charitable and religious organisations, and self help groups) and private sectors (private hospitals, pharmacists, medical practitioners and other private providers). These sectors work together to provide the full spectrum of alcohol and other drug services in Australia including:
The National Drug Strategy provides the overarching drug policy framework in Australia. The Health Council (formerly the COAG Health Council) has responsibility for the National Drug Strategy.
Jurisdictions also have local strategies and action plans in place to address alcohol and other drugs issues.
Legislation regarding alcohol and other drugs is developed at both a national and jurisdictional level in Australia, with the Commonwealth and the State and Territories each having responsibility for different areas. Responsibility for the enforcement of legislation lies with national and local police, other law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies.
Treatment services in Australia are provided by a mix of government, non-government and private sector providers. A mix of government and non-government agencies deliver government-funded AOD treatment services. Nationally in 2018-19, over two-thirds (69%) of alcohol and other drug treatment agencies were non-government, and these agencies provided 70% of closed treatment episodes. In the decade from 2009–10, the proportion of non-government services increased from 54% to 69% nationally.
In New South Wales, the majority (64%) of AOD treatment agencies were government agencies. In all other states and territories, the majority of AOD treatment agencies were non-government agencies, with proportions ranging from 64% in South Australia to 99% in Victoria.
More than half (59%) of all treatment agencies were located in major cities, and over one-fifth (24%) were in inner regional areas. Fewer services were located in remote or very remote areas (3% and 2% respectively).
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020). Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: 2018–19. Drug treatment series no. 34. Cat. no. HSE 243. Canberra: AIHW.
There is a broad range of government, non-government and community sectors involved in the prevention of alcohol and other drug use and related harms in Australia. National campaigns regarding tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use are delivered and jurisdictions also implement their own local programs aimed at preventing harms from alcohol and other drugs.
There are four national drug research centres which receive funding from the Australian government, of which NCETA is one. The other three centres are the:
- National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University)
- National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (University of NSW)
- Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research (CYSAR) (University of Queensland).
The four centres contribute to the understanding of a broad range of alcohol and other drug issues on national and international levels.
There are a number of organisations which provide advocacy in the alcohol and other drugs field. These organisations generally represent the needs of those affected by alcohol and other drug use (people who use drugs and their loved ones) and those who provide services in the alcohol and other drugs area. These include the Australian Alcohol and other Drugs Council, the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug User's League (AIVL) , Family Drug Support Australia and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).
Each State and Territory also has a peak body representing the non-government alcohol and drug sector. Links to these appear below,
The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) is the peak body representing the interests of the non-government sector in Australia. For more information, see www.adca.org.au.
The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug User's League (AIVL) AIVLis the national peak organisation representing the State and Territory-based Drug User Organisations and issues of national significance for illicit drug users. For more information, see http://www.aivl.org.au/.
Information regarding the National Drug Strategy, the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy and the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs can be found at www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au.
Information about alcohol and other drug treatment service provision in Australia can be found at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare site, look for the reports from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009) 'Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2007-08: report on the national minimum data set'. Drug treatment series no. 9. Cat. no. HSE 73. Canberra: AIHW.
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