National Ice Action Taskforce Findings
The Australian Government is concerned about the impact ice is having on individuals, families and communities. Reducing the impact of ice is a priority for the Australian Government.
In April 2015, the Government established a National Ice Taskforce (Taskforce) to provide advice on the development of a National Ice Action Strategy (NIAS).
The Taskforce found that Australian families, communities and frontline service workers are struggling with the fallout from a growing number of dependent ice users. The report found the need for more coordinated and more targeted efforts to reduce the demand for and supply of ice. The Taskforce acknowledges the critical role of law enforcement efforts, but recommends that tackling this issue must also include education, training and better access to treatment and services. The Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce, 2015
can be found on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website
Response to Taskforce Findings – NIAS
The NIAS was agreed at the 11 December 2015 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.
To underpin the NIAS, the Government has provided $298.2 million over four years from 1 July 2016 to reduce the impacts associated with drug and alcohol misuse to individuals, families and communities.
The objectives of the NIAS are to ensure that:
- families and communities have better access to information, support and tools to help them to respond to drug and alcohol issues;
- prevention messages are targeted at high-risk populations and accurate information about drugs and alcohol is more accessible;
- early intervention and treatment services are better tailored to respond to drug and alcohol-related harms and meet the needs of the populations they serve;
- law enforcement efforts are better targeted to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs; and
- better evidence is available to drive responses to the effects of drugs and alcohol in our community.
This funding will strengthen education, prevention, treatment, support and community engagement and includes:
- $241.5 million in funding for Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to commission further drug and alcohol treatment services to meet local needs, including a focus on culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- $24.9 million to support communities to deliver locally-based and tailored ice prevention and education activities;
- $13 million for new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items for addiction medicine specialists;
- $10.7 million to support clinical research into new treatment options, training of professionals and evaluating the effectiveness of clinical care for those using methamphetamines, which includes a new Centre of Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern; and
- $8.1 million to more broadly improve our data sources on emerging trends in ice and other illicit drug use patterns, treatment options and early identification of newly emerging drug threats.
These measures are in addition to the Commonwealth’s already extensive efforts to combat the use of ice and other harmful drugs.
All government agencies involved in the implementation of measures under the NIAS are engaging on a regular basis to ensure progress is on track.
For further information please visit the COAG website
Governance – Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum (MDAF)
- Endorsement of the NIAS included agreement to establish strong and responsive governance arrangements to oversee national drug and alcohol policy issues in Australia.
- The MDAF reports directly to COAG on drug and alcohol matters of national significance, with membership of Ministers from each jurisdiction with direct policy responsibility for alcohol and other drug matters from the health and law enforcement/justice portfolios.
- The MDAF held its inaugural meeting on 16 December 2016.
- The MDAF met most recently on 27 November 2017. A copy of the MDAF Communiqué can be accessed on the Department of Health’s website.
NIAS Implementation Progress
Significant progress on implementation of measures under the NIAS has been achieved since the announcement in December 2015.
Objective: Families and Communities Local Drug Action Teams (LDATs)
Positive Choices Web Portal
- Funding of $19.2 million has been provided to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) to establish up to 220 LDATs across Australia.
- LDATs will provide a structure for the community to work together to prevent and reduce alcohol and other drug misuse within their local communities.
- The teams will focus on delivering local health promotion, community-led education and mentoring programs, early intervention and prevention programs, and providing support for vulnerable people to minimise their risk of alcohol and other drug (including ice) related harms.
- Membership of each LDAT may be configured differently, depending on local circumstances. Their memberships might include representatives from local councils, schools, police, youth services, primary health services and treatment services, community groups, non-government organisations and ordinary community members.
- On 22 September 2017, the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the next 40 LDATs, taking the total number of LDATs across the country to 80.
- Each LDAT receives initial funding of $10,000 to support local planning and consultation and is supported by the ADF to develop locally-focused and responsive community action plans focused on evidence-based prevention activities.
- Once these plans are complete, LDATs are eligible to access further grant funding (of up to a total of $40,000 per annum) to support delivery of on-the-ground actions outlined in the plan.
- The Government encourages all community groups and organisations to look at opportunities within their region and start building partnerships to become part of the LDAT program. More opportunities to be part of the program will take place throughout 2018 and 2019.
- A range of digital resources to assist community organisations in developing Community Action Plans and partnerships is available through the ADF website.
- Further information about the LDAT program is available on the ADF website.
- The ‘Positive Choices’ online web-portal was launched in December 2015 and provides access to interactive evidence-based drug education resources for parents, teachers and students.
- Additional funding of $1.1 million is being provided for ongoing maintenance of the webportal and for further expansion and development of new resources, including resources for Indigenous parents, teachers and students.
Good Sports Program
National Drugs Campaign
- Funding of $4.6 million has been provided to the ADF to expand the Good Sports Program to include a module titled 'Tackling Illegal Drugs', which was officially launched on 21 March 2017.
- At its core, the program helps build community capacity and confidence to address issues and harms relating to illegal drugs at a local level.
- Tackling Illegal Drugs forums are being run through Good Sports Clubs to assist in developing and implementing illegal drugs policies and build confidence of club leaders and members to prevent and manage illegal drug-related issues in a supportive, structured and consistent manner.
- More than 1,200 community sporting clubs will be supported to deliver prevention messages about ice, including sporting clubs in remote Indigenous communities.
- Sporting Clubs are encouraged to contact the ADF and join the Good Sports Program if they wish to be involved.
Cracks in the Ice Community Toolkit
- The NIAS identified the need for the development and delivery of evidence-based targeted communication activities, including through social media and other innovative media.
- The Commonwealth provided $20 million over two years in the 2015-16 Federal Budget to support a new phase of the National Drugs Campaign. The most recent phase of the Campaign commenced in September 2017 and concluded in December 2017.
- This phase of the Campaign included highly targeted prevention, information and help-seeking messages aimed at young people and parents, with a focus on ice and also ‘party drugs’.
- The Campaign included a strong focus on social media platforms and was complemented by the launch of a national information and support hotline (1800 250 015) and the continued roll-out of the positive choices and cracks in the ice online portals.
- The Cracks in the Ice online community toolkit provides publicly accessible, factual and evidence-based information for community groups, local councils, concerned parents and friends, teachers, students and frontline service providers relating to ice.
- The Cracks in the Ice website was launched on 3 April 2017.
- A Cracks in the Ice smartphone application will be available in late 2018
Objective: Treatment PHNs
Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and Brief Intervention (BI)
- Funding of $241.5 million over four years from 1 July 2016 has been allocated to PHNs to commission additional drug and alcohol treatment services – including $78.6 million for Indigenous-specific services.
- This investment, together with existing funding in drug and alcohol treatment of $75 million per annum, demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to helping people overcome alcohol and drug misuse and contributes to reducing the cost of harm to the individual, community and the health system.
- To maximise the benefits of the NIAS funding and to ensure local needs and priorities are considered, PHNs have undertaken extensive planning and consultation to inform their commissioning of drug and alcohol treatment services.
- In recognition of PHNs’ core role in improving integration and coordination of health services, this funding is broader than commissioning drug and alcohol treatment services. All PHNs have made significant progress to ensure that commissioned services provide the foundation for a sustainable drug and alcohol treatment system into the future.
- All PHNs have commenced delivery of commissioned drug and alcohol treatment services in their region.
- It is important that preference for the quick commencement of service delivery is tempered by the need to ensure the right mix of evidence-based services are provided to the community by a qualified workforce.
- PHNs are commissioning a range of evidence-based treatment options including:
- early intervention targeting less problematic drug use, including Brief Intervention;
- withdrawal management with pathways to post-acute withdrawal support and relapse prevention;
- residential rehabilitation with pathways to post-acute withdrawal support and relapse prevention;
- day stay rehabilitation and other intensive non-residential programs;
- post-treatment support and relapse prevention; and
- case management, care planning and coordination.
- Funding of $1.7 million over four years from 1 July 2016 has been provided to the University of Adelaide to continue and to expand the ASSIST and ASSIST-BI across primary health, mental health, community correctional settings and emergency care sectors.
- ASSIST-BI provides a simple method for health professionals to screen for hazardous or harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. It is currently the only screening instrument responsive to changes in drug use patterns as it screens for the use of alcohol, tobacco, amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, inhalants, opioids, sedatives and hallucinogens.
- The ASSIST-BI for amphetamine type stimulants 'ASSIST on Ice' DVD and training manual was released nationally in January 2017, followed in February 2017 by the launch of the ASSIST Portal that provides access to a range of ASSIST-related resources and services.
- The expansion will increase opportunities for effective and opportunistic screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment for substance use disorders, including ice.
From 1 November 2016, 15 new items were listed on the MBS for services provided by addiction medicine specialists. The new items will enable the delivery of quality private sector services for addiction medicine and assist to meet the needs of patients who are unwilling or unable to attend public clinics. In addition, patients in rural and regional Australia will have better access to addiction medicine specialist services through the provision of MBS items for telehealth consultations.
Expansion of Counselling Online
Renew and disseminate National Comorbidity Guidelines
- Counselling Online is a free counselling service for people using alcohol and other drugs, their family members and friends. The service aims to improve community access to drug treatment and referral services by offering online text-based counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Under the NIAS, the Australian Government committed to expanding the Counselling Online program to provide a national online counselling service for people affected by substance misuse.
- In October 2016, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre launched the expanded Counselling Online program, improving access to online interventions and improving health outcomes for users accessing the service.
National Quality Framework and National Treatment Framework
- The revised National Comorbidity Guidelines (Guidelines on the management of co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings, Second Edition) were released online in July 2016 and officially launched at the 2016 National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) Annual Research Symposium on 12 September 2016.
- First published in 2009, the National Comorbidity Guidelines aim to increase the knowledge and awareness of co-occurring mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment settings, improve the confidence and skills of AOD workers, and increase the uptake of evidence-based care.
- An initial dissemination of the National Comorbidity Guidelines to key stakeholders, including drug and alcohol treatment services and tertiary education providers within Australia, has occurred, with further promotion and distribution to occur until March 2019.
- A website consisting of the guidelines, training program and clinician resources was released in December 2017.
- The project team at the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use at NDARC is also currently developing an online training program to accompany the second edition of the National Comorbidity Guidelines.
- The National Comorbidity Guidelines (second edition) are available on the NDARC website.
- The renewal and dissemination of the National Comorbidity Guidelines form part of the Government’s efforts to further support the drug and alcohol treatment workforce under the NIAS.
The Australian Government is ensuring that investment in the drug and alcohol treatment sector is efficient and effective through a range of measures. This includes:
National Quality Framework
National Treatment Framework
- The Government, through the Department of Health, is working with all states and territories to explore options for the development and implementation of a National Quality Framework.
- The establishment of a National Quality Framework for drug and alcohol treatment services is an action item of the NIAS.
- In November 2017, the MDAF agreed in-principle to the National Quality Framework, noting that the working group will finalise the framework and consultation needs to occur with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to ensure alignment with current accreditation systems to minimise duplication.
- MDAF noted that this work will be finalised by the National Drug Strategy Committee by April 2018.
- Work is being progressed, through the Department of Health, for a scoping project to inform the development of a National Treatment Framework for drug and alcohol treatment services.
- This project is the first phase towards the development of the National Treatment Framework and will provide advice on the scope and consultations required for a National Treatment Framework.
- The establishment of a National Treatment Framework was one of the key recommendations under the NIAS to clarify government roles and improve planning across the sector to ensure that communities have the types of services that are required.
Objective: Focused Law Enforcement
- The Government has committed to strengthen international cooperation and advocacy to improve the ability to stem the flow of ice into Australia and detect and disrupt transnational crime syndicates. This is being achieved through ongoing engagement between law enforcement agencies to target drug networks involved in the ice trade in the Asia-Pacific region. A working group, led by the Australian Federal Police, has already conducted a stocktake of existing international cooperative arrangements and is developing a strategy focused on disrupting the supply of ice and precursors from major source and transit countries. The working group will engage with states and territories as necessary to support this work. The working group finalised and endorsed the draft strategy in July 2017.
- The Government has provided $1 million to rollout a national ‘Dob in a Dealer’ campaign to encourage the public to report information on drug manufacture and distribution. This campaign ran throughout 2016 on national and local media.
- The ‘Dob in a Dealer’ campaign ceased in March 2017 and analysis of the campaign was completed in April 2017. The analysis found that on average there was a 95% increase in drug-related information reports provided to Crime Stoppers Australia during the campaign activity period, and an increase of 143% in the number of amphetamine-related information reports.
Objective: Research and Data Centre for Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern
The National Surveillance System for Alcohol and other Drug Misuse and Overdose Project
- A new Centre of Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern has been established to support clinical research into new treatment options, training of health professionals and evaluating treatment effectiveness.
- The NDARC at the University of New South Wales will lead a consortium comprising the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University and St Vincent’s Health Australia. The Centre commenced in early March 2017.
- The Government has provided funding to expand the Victorian Ambulance Project to establish and maintain a National Surveillance System for Alcohol and other Drug Misuse and Overdose. This project will provide detailed and timely data regarding alcohol and other drug acute harm and overdose, and address gaps in evidence needed to inform policy, intervention and evaluation activities at both a state and national level.
- The Government is also committed to providing funding to enhance national treatment data, including investigating the development of a waiting time data item and disaggregation of treatment data for PHNs, and to investigate increasing the frequency and quality of population prevalence data for alcohol and other drug use and harms.