Category Archives: NSW Government

NSW Election Forum

The NSW ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) invites you to the 2015 NAAPA Alcohol Policy Election Forum on 5 March 2015

On Saturday 28 March 2015, New South Wales (NSW) will head to the polls for the State Election. If elected, do you know what your local MP intends to do to address alcohol harms?

NAAPA, an alliance of health, community, law enforcement, emergency services and research organisations, is holding an Election Forum to allow representatives of NSW political parties to put forward their plans to reduce alcohol harms in NSW.

Join members of NAAPA at the Election Forum to hear from your political representatives and raise important questions about alcohol policy.

This event is open to members of the public, if you are interested please register at .

More information about the event, including a full program of speakers, will be released shortly

Event details

Date: Thursday 5 March 2015
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Venue: Salvation Army’s Sydney Congress Hall Function Centre 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Register at Eventbrite or call Helen Cannon at FARE on (02) 6122 8600

NAAPA members will be tweeting live from the event, so use #NAAPA to join the conversation.

Sydney’s injecting room: Bob Carr’s thoughts

If you didn’t know, former NSW Premier Bob Carr has his own blog and he’s just put up a post on the King’s Cross based Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. It’s an interesting read though I’d have loved to have seen more written on what must have been a vigorous internal party debate. Have a read in full for yourself, but here’s the paragraph that stood out for me:

All this has happened, as we confirmed at a gathering of 400 supporters of the centre who gathered in Sydney last night. An estimated 90 lives have been saved and Kings Cross improved. Not the Sisters of Charity but the Kirketon Centre ended up running the centre and with their professionalism answered all the critics, or almost all.

I doubt the criticism will stop but is the general consensus that progress is being made in changing attitudes?

Injecting room moves beyond trial status

From the NADA press release:

NADA welcomes passing of legislation to remove the trial status of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

The Network of Alcohol and Drugs Agencies (NADA), the peak organisation for the non government drug and alcohol sector in NSW, welcomes the passing of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Amendment (Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) Bill 2010, to remove reference to the trial status of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC).

NADA congratulates the Minister for Health, Carmel Tebbutt, for introducing the bill which was passed by the Upper House of NSW Parliament last night after the bill was passed by the Lower House last week. NADA Chief Executive Officer, Larry Pierce stated, “As a member, NADA highly regards the role of the MSIC in providing a vital health service to people who are not in touch with treatment services.” The MSIC is part of a comprehensive strategy to address drug use in NSW along with other drug and alcohol services providing health promotion, education, treatment and rehabilitation programs. Mr Pierce continues, “NADA will continue to support MSIC and the strong referral relationships it has with some of our most significant treatment services in the non government sector.”

NSW Health Drug and Alcohol Research Grants Program 2011/12

From NSW Health:

Applications for Expressions of Interest are now open for the NSW Health Drug and Alcohol Research Grants Program 2011/12

The NSW Health Drug and Alcohol Research Grants Program is administered through the Mental Health & Drug and Alcohol Office. Each year a small number of research grants are allocated to contribute towards improving evidence based practice in drug and alcohol services and programs in NSW.

Applications are invited from researchers and clinicians working in the drug and alcohol field in the following four priority areas of investigation:

1. Workforce planning and development;
2. Clinical service research;
3. Health promotion and prevention; and
4. The impact of drug and alcohol use on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Priority will be given to research projects in the above areas that have a particular focus on vulnerable population groups.

For more information about the grants program, or to obtain an Expression of Interest package, please contact Susie Scherf, Research and Health System Development, Mental Health & Drug and Alcohol Office, NSW Health.
Phone: (02) 9391 9727

Closing date for applications: 5pm Monday 11 October 2010

Impact of methamphetamine price on use: new study

Saw this message from the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General:

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in collaboration with the Drug Policy Modelling Program, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has today released the following report:

How do methamphetamine users respond to changes in methamphetamine price?

One of the core objectives of supply-side drug law enforcement is to reduce drug use by raising the cost of buying drugs.
The effectiveness of this strategy depends on how illicit drug users respond to the rise in costs. The aim of the current study was to estimate how methamphetamine users would respond to changes in the price of methamphetamine and heroin
using a scenario-based research design.

Link to PDF report

John Della Bosca: another angle

I noticed this letter from Tony Trimingham yesterday, which sums up perfectly the other side of politics: the part that actually makes a difference:

Whatever you think of Della Boscas personal indescretions I want to record my thanks and appreciation for all the good work he did as Special Minister of State and then Health Minister especially in regard to the problems of drugs and alcohol. Here was a man who took a deep personal interest in these issues and who was always open to listen to the concerns of those affected. No other Minister in this portfolio showed the same interest and concern as he did over his years involved. ‘He also made real and effectective changes. This is a loss that all my colleagues in the sector are now feeling. I also feel that at the moment he must be feeling friendless and isolated and just want him to know that many in the field are feeling sadness at his going in this way.

I tend to agree with the line former premier Bob Carr and many others took this week: a minister’s personal issues aren’t necessarily a hanging offence from a ministerial or policy perspective. That said, the NSW Labor government is so past its use-by date that nothing surprises anymore. Unless they parachute Barrie Unsworth into the premiership – then I’d be truly gobsmacked.

NSW Opposition gaining credit for ATOD approach?

For those outside of NSW who are unaware, the current Labor government has been in power since 1995 and to put it politely, is well and truly showing signs of disrepair. The current NSW Opposition has managed to stay disciplined since the 2007 election and under Barry O’Farrell has mad a much needed move to the centre-right.

NADA has put out a press release applauding the NSW Opposition for its call to improve funding for treatment services rather than the ever-expanding rollout of prison beds. Kudos to NADA for being vocal on this, and here’s to a lot more of that by ATOD peak bodies.

I’m far from a Liberal Party supporter but it shows how bizarre things have become where a Labor government are promising more and more prisons whilst the so-called conservatives are wanting an increased focus on treatment.

For those living in NSW, have you noticed whether things have deteriorated in regards to the government’s grasp of health issues? Post a comment below – feel free to use a psuedonym and fake email address if you’re worried about protecting your privacy. There’s not enough open discussion about the impact of politics on health and the current NSW situation is as good a place as any.

The NADA press release:

NADA applauds calls for the expansion of drug crime diversion programs

The Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies (NADA) welcomes the NSW Opposition’s justice spokesperson’s call to end simplistic “tough on crime” approaches to deal with offenders with severe drug and alcohol and mental health issues. NADA CEO Larry Pierce thinks the NSW Opposition got it right in identifying that more funding for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are more effective than building more prisons. “There is strong evidence for the effectiveness of drug crime diversion programs like Drug Courts and magistrates referral to treatment in NSW and across the country” .

“it would be good to see real political bi-partisanship on this issue” says Mr Pierce. NADA also calls on the State and Australian government to further strengthen their current commitment to drug crime diversion and rehabilitation programs.

Stimulant Treatment Program: NSW Health release evaluation

“NSW Health has recently released the preliminary evaluation of the Stimulant Treatment Program, which is now available on the NSW Health publications website.

The Stimulant Treatment Program (STP) commenced in New South Wales in 2006 with a trial of two standalone stimulant treatment clinics based in Darlinghurst, St Vincent*s Hospital and Newcastle, Hunter New England Area Health Service. The clinics provide treatment for stimulant users, primarily methamphetamine users including brief interventions, CBT and case management for people with mental health and substance use problems, using a stepped care approach to treatment.

NSW Health recently conducted a preliminary evaluation of the STP. The aim of the evaluation was to measure the effectiveness of the model of clinical intervention for stimulant users and identify key issues relating to service delivery, and to examine the feasibility of conducting the STP at the two clinics.

The preliminary evaluation was able to demonstrate that the STP has been successful in attracting and retaining people who need treatment but are often reluctant to present at mainstream drug and alcohol services.

The report can be found at:

A changing of the guard at the MSIC

For more than ten years the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) has been a sometimes controversial addition to the Sydney landscape. The conservative aspects of the ATOD sector have at best been uneasy about its existence and the more rabid groups like DFA would love it to disappear tomorrow.

The stats provided by Dr van Beek are compelling and aside from straw man arguments around their statistical veracity, it’s hard to understand why anyone would argue anything other than its retention and expansion.

There’s a discussion on the MSIC at independent news outlet

The full media release on Dr van Beek’s departure from the MSIC:

“Media Release

Groundbreaking founder says goodbye

It’s been a long and arduous journey for Dr Ingrid van Beek who as the medical director of Australia’s first Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) has put her heart and soul into this ground-breaking public health initiative over the past eight years. Today, in an historic announcement, Dr van Beek announces her resignation as its inaugural Medical Director.

“It’s been a great privilege to work in a field that I have such a strong commitment and passion for. My only disappointment is that the MSIC continues to operate on a trial basis,” says Dr van Beek.

The Kings Cross service received a four-year trial extension by the NSW Government in June last year, making it a ten and a half year scientific trial.

“It’s important the MSIC is judged on its health outcomes and it is now well-established the MSIC has been effective in reducing the various drug-related harms associated with street-based injecting to both individual drug users and the greater community,” says Dr van Beek.

The statistics speak for themselves –

80 per cent of long term local Kings Cross residents and 68 per cent of local business managers support the MSIC

Over 10,000 injecting drug users have registered to use the MSIC to date

More than 200 injecting episodes occur at MSIC every day i.e. in a clinical setting where in the event of a medical emergency eg overdose, specially trained registered nurses provide prompt and effective resuscitation. These injecting episodes would have otherwise occurred in unsupervised, often public and squalid circumstances in the local environs where timely help is in the lap of the gods.

2,458 drug overdoses have been successfully treated onsite in the past seven years

Ambulance callouts to heroin overdoses in the area have decreased by 80 percent thereby freeing Ambulance services to attend other medical emergencies in the area

MSIC staff have referred drug users to other services including drug treatment and rehabilitation programs on more than 7,000 occasions to date

“One of the highlights of my time spent at the MSIC is seeing first hand staff helping drug dependent users who are often in desperate personal circumstances and leading socially isolated lives. I am humbled to know we have helped these people get their lives back on track.” says Dr van Beek.

“My one hope is that the MSIC’s trial status is revisited prior to the next State election. The MSIC’s apparently endless trial status is a barrier to its integration with the rest of the public health system affecting continuity of care, workforce development and staff morale, especially as the end of each trial period draws near. It also ensures that the service remains politicised; the work we do is too important to be subject to partisan politics,” says Dr van Beek.

Rev. Harry Herbert, Executive Director, UnitingCare NSW says without the insight, personal dedication, political acumen, tenacity and determination of Dr van Beek, the MSIC would not have succeeded as it has.

“Ingrid made the dream a reality. She played an integral part in establishing the MSIC. She has been an inspiration to the staff, clients, businesses and community members associated with the MSIC.”

“Ingrid is congratulated and should be recognised and admired for her work in preventing and reducing drug-related harm and communicable diseases amongst one of society’s most marginalised groups – injecting drug users,” says Rev Herbert.

Dr van Beek was recently inducted into the National Drug and Alcohol Awards Honour Roll for her tireless and significant contribution to the drug and alcohol field over many years. The Awards are a collaborative effort of the Ted Noffs Foundation, The Australian Drug Foundation, The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia and the Australian National Council on Drugs.

Dr van Beek is returning to her original post as the full time Director of the Kirketon Road Centre in Kings Cross. Dr Marianne Jauncey, a public health physician, will take over as the Medical Director of the MSIC in the coming weeks. Dr Jauncey started her public health career working at the clinical coalface at the nearby Kirketon Road Centre, so she is well placed to take on this important role.”