Category Archives: Legislative issues

Julia Gillard announces 2011 Drug and Alcohol Award Winners


Every day, thousands of dedicated professionals offer their experience, expertise and compassion to those struggling with the consequences of drug use.

Their interventions help protect public health, reduce crime, and enable users to come to terms with their condition and regain control of their future.

If these are difficult endeavours, they are never thankless. Rather our hardworking drug and alcohol workers have the nation’s gratitude and admiration.

In that spirit, I offer my sincerest congratulations to Judge Roger Dive, a worthy recipient of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution to Drug and Alcohol Endeavours.

Judge Dive, a Senior Judge of the NSW Drug Court, has worked tirelessly to promote a humane and practical response to offenders with alcohol and drug problems, using the courts to reduce the negative effects of drugs and alcohol on individuals and society.

The innovative work of Judge Dive and his colleagues on the Drug Court is mirrored by a web of government and non-government services across all our States and Territories – a partnership that succeeds through cooperation, goodwill and a shared belief that what we are doing really can make a difference.

Therefore I send my best wishes to Judge Dive and to all his colleagues in the sector, whose work is also honoured by this special award.

I know you will keep doing great things to save and transform lives.

The Honourable Julia Gillard
Prime Minister of Australia

Prime Ministers Award for Excellence

Judge Roger Dive – Parramatta Drug Court

Awards Honour Roll

Professor Robyn Richmond
Dr David McDonald

Excellence in Law Enforcement
The Bourke Alcohol Working Group

Excellence in Media Reporting
Ms Jill Stark, The Age

Excellence in Prevention and Community Education
The W.A. Department of Health’s Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) Program

Excellence in Research
AERF, The Range and Magnitude of Alcohols’ Harm to Others

Excellence in Treatment
Catalyst, UnitingCare Moreland Hall, Victoria

Excellence in School Drug Education
Wollumbin High School

Excellence in Services to Young People
Hello Sunday Morning

Excellence in Creating Healthy Sporting Communities
Eastern Football League

Political donations from Tobacco: ADCA takes aim

Press release from ADCA:

ADCA Targets Political Donations from Tobacco/ Alcohol Industries.- The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) believes the Opposition’s “political about turn” on tobacco plain packaging is a step in the right direction to enhance the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“But the next step must now be to focus on the banning of all political donations from both the tobacco and alcohol industries,” the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ADCA, Mr David Templeman, said today.

“The bipartisan approach that will see the passing of the plain packaging legislation needs to be reinforced by a similar approach to break the funding links between all elements of government and multinational/ national organisations.”

Mr Templeman said that all political parties should be free to make independent and rational decisions regarding the health of the nation and not be influenced by a “cheque in the post”.
“We can’t lose sight that tobacco and alcohol combined are responsible for some 22 000 deaths a year, with a reported annual economic impact of $31.48 billion for tobacco, and in excess of $36 billion for alcohol,” Mr Templeman said.

“Plain packaging is certainly a win for public health and the upcoming debate on the legislation in Federal Parliament should be short and swift and not drawn out. This is a chance to take that next step and legislate to put a stop to political donations.”

Mr Templeman said that today’s reported moves by some Federal Opposition Backbenchers to further encourage the Opposition to not accept donations from tobacco companies were welcomed and strongly supported.

“We already have the initiative by the Australian Greens to amend electoral laws to ban donations by tobacco companies which could be extended to also eliminate donations from the alcohol industry,” Mr Templeman said.

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?

Local Government and drug prevention: new website

This is encouraging as so much good work goes on at this level of government:

Council of Capital City Lord Mayors

The Chair of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) and Lord Mayor of Hobart, Alderman Rob Valentine, launched a new website to assist councils in addressing the impacts of drugs and alcohol in their communities. The new site – Local Government Alcohol and Drugs Info Net (LGADIN) – is aimed at building and enhancing the capacity of local councils to reduce the harm of drugs and alcohol.
“Local government plays a significant role in shouldering the burden associated with the use of drugs and alcohol in our communities,” Lord Mayor Valentine said.

“This is the first time in Australia that local government has had a dedicated website to assist councils improve their response in this area.

“LGADIN is home to everything any council in Australia needs to help them manage drug and alcohol issues in their communities. It provides a one stop shop of information on upcoming events, the latest news and a discussion forum for councils to participate in knowledge sharing.

“We envisage LGADIN becoming a primary tool, an essential component for councils in Australia to obtain the latest thinking, examples of clever initiatives operating in local government and important information on funding opportunities and legislative changes.”

Lord Mayor Valentine acknowledged the Federal Government’s funding contribution through its Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy which enabled the construction of the website.

“The LGADIN is a product of Federal Government engagement with local government to help reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol in our communities. By empowering councils, we are able to contribute towards reducing the impact that drugs and alcohol have on families, businesses and communities. We are happy to deliver coalface initiatives towards meeting national objectives.”

ANCD: new members announced by Government

Press release from the ANCD:


The Federal Government today announced the new membership of the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD).

Prime Minister Julia Gillard welcomed the addition of several new members to the ANCD who will bring fresh perspectives on ways to reduce harm caused by alcohol and drug misuse.

They will join a number of experienced members at the ANCD – which will continue to be chaired by Dr John Herron.

The ANCD has played a crucial role as the Australian Government’s principal advisory body on licit and illicit drugs since its establishment in 1998.

Members of the ANCD come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have experience in areas covering law enforcement, the health and social welfare sectors and the community sector.

The ANCD brings a broad, whole-of-society perspective to drug and alcohol issues.

It has helped shape several Government strategies and campaigns which have succeeded in reducing the rate of smoking and illicit drug use.

The Prime Minister said ANCD members, past and present, have made a valuable contribution in tackling the issues behind drug and alcohol misuse.

The Council’s membership will next be reviewed in 2014.

15 APRIL 2011

PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744


The following people have been appointed to the ANCD (2011-2014):
* Indicates new members
Chair of the Council
Dr John Herron

Executive Members
Associate Professor Robert Ali
Professor Margaret Hamilton
Mr Garth Popple

Ms Donna Ah Chee *
Professor Steve Allsop *
Professor Jon Currie *
Ms Carrie Fowlie *
Magistrate Margaret Gill Harding *
Mr Nick Heath *
Ms Annie Madden *
Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan *
Mr Frank Quinlan (ex officio) *
Professor Dorothy Scott *
Assistant Commissioner Julian Slater *
Ms Sheree Vertigan (ex officio)
Mr Paul White *
Associate Professor Ted Wilkes

ANCD Terms of Reference 2011–2014

Provide independent advice to the Prime Minister and Australian Government Ministers on national drug and alcohol strategies, policies, programs and emerging issues.
Provide independent advice to the Prime Minister and the Australian Government on improving the implementation and effectiveness of efforts to reduce the supply, demand and harm from drugs in Australia and internationally.
Provide independent and strategic advice to the Prime Minister and Australian Government Ministers on drug and alcohol issues specifically affecting Indigenous people.
Provide assistance and advice on drug policy and services to Australian Government departments, inquiries and other bodies such as parliamentary parties, as appropriate.
Consult and liaise with relevant sectors and in particular the non-government sector on drug and alcohol related issues.
Inform and educate relevant sectors and the general public’s knowledge on drug and alcohol related issues.
Build and maintain partnerships across the range of sectors concerned in dealing with and addressing drug related issues.
Work closely with the Inter-governmental Committee on Drugs and other National Drug Strategy partners to develop and implement effective strategies, policies and programs to reduce the uptake and misuse of illicit and licit drugs.
Maintain effective liaison with other stakeholders, public health advisory bodies and relevant peak non-government organisations, including consumer representatives.
Develop a three year Work Plan for the Council.
Report annually to the Prime Minister on the work of the Council.

NHMRC Funding cuts: the perspective of those affected

It’s hard not to agree with the perspective of the Public Health Association of Australia‘s on the Government’s rumoured spending cutbacks for research:

150 professors to fight possible NHMRC funding cuts

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Council of Academic Public Health Institutes of Australia (CAPHIA) have written to the Prime Minister and colleagues to express concern about possible funding cuts to National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research. The letter from the two leading public health organisations has also been signed by over 150 Professors of Public Health from around the country, who say the proposed cuts come at a time of unprecedented reform including in the primary health care and preventive sector.

“A previous Federal budget saw the abolition of the Public Health Education and Research Program (PHERP) with a major impact on a range of public health programs. Every University has been impacted by the loss of PHERP funding which in turn affects capacity building in the public health workforce. Now, proposed cuts to the NHMRC research funds will have further impact on public health research,” explained Professor Helen Keleher, PHAA President.

“Public health research has struggled to gain funding within NHMRC to a level anywhere near on par with its policy relevance and population impact. It remains especially vulnerable to disproportionate reductions if budget cuts are instituted. Public health research tends to produce long term rather than short term outcomes and is therefore more vulnerable to cutbacks than other forms of research. However, it is also true that many of the great advances in improved health outcomes have come through public health. If we are to improve population health and address health inequities, we must invest in public health research to inform programs and policy,” said Professor Keleher.

“Public health successes in environmental health, communicable disease control, injury prevention and health advancement account for much of the improvement in health and life expectancy over the last 50 years. While more research is still being conducted on these issues, public health is also involved in improving nutrition and physical fitness to deal with the obesity epidemic, as well as alcohol, illicit drugs and gambling policy to reduce harm associated with these activities. These are complex issues in which evidence gaps exist and further research is required to effectively support programs,” said Professor Bennett.

“Public health research informs the development of programs and policies and evaluates their effectiveness. It investigates the social and environmental determinants of health to ensure targeting of programs to get the best outcomes for the least cost. We know that prevention is better than cure, and prevention reduces the burden of illness and disability in our society. Undertaking research into prevention of ill health and promoting good health is a cost effective intervention which saves lives.

“We are urging the Government to reconsider any possible cuts to the NHMRC budget that will surely impact heavily on public health research,” said Professor Bennett.

A full copy of the letter sent by PHAA and CAPHIA to the Prime Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Education and Minister for Health is available on the PHAA website at: .

Australia gets a preventative health agency

Would love to hear people’s thoughts on this – it seems logical, but will it end up a conglomeration of conflicting priorities?


Minister for Health and Ageing


17 November 2010

Historic health prevention agency a reality

The fight against preventable diseases has been given a boost after the Parliament today passed the historic Australian National Preventive Health Agency Bill 2010, despite delaying tactics by the Opposition.

The Agency will lead Australia’s fight against preventable diseases through campaigns targeting obesity, along with alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse.

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon said the Agency will be critical in combating preventable diseases, which affects the lives of millions of Australians.

“We know that preventative health measures work and that’s why we sought to establish the Agency so for the first time in Australia, we will have one independent body to coordinate prevention campaigns across the country.”

As part of the Gillard Government’s record $872.1 million commitment over six years towards the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health, the Agency will bring together some of the best expertise in Australia to gather, analyse and disseminate the latest evidence on ways to prevent chronic disease.

The Government has allocated $17.6 million to establish and operate the Agency which will be open from early next year and will be responsible for three specific programs under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health:

· National social marketing programs relating to tobacco and obesity ($102 million over four years);

· A preventive health research fund focussing on translational research ($13.1 million over four years); and

· A preventative workforce audit and strategy ($0.5 million over two years).

Quick facts:

· Potentially avoidable diseases account for around 20 per cent of Australia’s total health care expenditure.

· More than 60 per cent of Australians aged over 18 are overweight or obese.

· And more than 813,000 Australians aged 15 years and older were hospitalised for alcohol-related injury and disease between 1996 and 2005.

· Currently, smoking kills about 15,000 Australians each year and costs Australia $31.5 billion each year.

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

Mental Health in Australia – NADA nail it

If you didn’t see the Four Corner program on mental health last night, do yourself a favour and have a watch now. NADA have come out with a press release that sums up the issue nicely and hopefully keeps some momentum going:

Recognition and resources for comprehensive mental health and drug and alcohol services

Following the disturbing episode of Four Corners last night titled Hidden voices, the Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies (NADA) is calling for a renewed focus on the state of the mental health and drug and alcohol service systems and the current approaches that perpetuate a focus on hospital beds and acute, crisis-driven services.

Hidden voices highlighted the lack of access to acute mental health care services and the dearth of sub-acute mental health services, supported accommodation and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in regional areas of Australia. It is the experience of NADA and its membership that the situation in Mackay is replicated in regional areas of NSW. Mr Larry Pierce, Chief Executive Officer of NADA says, “the lack of resources and recognition for the work of community based services in providing sub-acute care and ongoing rehabilitation creates a vicious cycle that exacerbates the strain placed on hospital-based acute care services that already cannot meet the community demand.”

Most importantly, the episode highlighted the incredible strain that the lack of services places on individuals with mental illness and drug and alcohol issues and their families. “These tragic stories represent just how intractable and wicked these problems are but I fully agree with Professors McGorry and Mendoza that we do know the models of care and interventions that work. Adequate resources need to be directed towards these models of care to prevent this from being an ongoing national tragedy,” says Mr Pierce. These models support community based approaches and critically, they intervene early before mental illness and drug and alcohol issues become constant and defining features of a person’s adult life.

Reiterating the comments of Adjunct Professor John Mendoza, NADA strongly calls on the NSW and Federal governments to invest in a comprehensive mental health and drug and alcohol service system that provides for packages of care for consumers predominantly provided in the community rather than the funding of an inadequate number of hospital beds and an insufficient scattering of community based services in NSW and across Australia.