National Ice Action Taskforce Findings
The Australian Government shares the concerns about the harm ice is doing in the community. Reducing the impact of ice is a priority for the Australian Government.
In April 2015, the Australian Government established a National Ice Taskforce (Taskforce), led by former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police,
Mr Ken Lay APM. The Government asked the Taskforce to provide advice on the development of a National Ice Action Strategy.
The Taskforce consulted widely with experts and communities all around the country and received around 1,300 public submissions.
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 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 Taskforce can be found on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's website.
Response to Taskforce Findings – National Ice Action Strategy
The Government is providing $298.2 million over four years from 1 July 2016 towards a number of measures to reduce the impacts associated with drug and alcohol misuse to individuals, families and communities.
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 need - with a focus on culturally appropriate mainstream services and 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 to introduce new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items for addiction medicine specialists from 1 November 2016;
- $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 new measures are in addition to the Commonwealth’s already extensive efforts to combat the use of ice and other harmful drugs.
The Commonwealth’s new investment to tackle the problem of ice underpins the new National Ice Action Strategy (NIAS), which was agreed at the 11 December 2015 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting. The objectives of the new 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.
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 governance arrangements for drug and alcohol issues in Australia.
- The MDAF will report directly to COAG on drug and alcohol matters of national significance and is supported by the National Drug Strategy Committee.
- The MDAF held its inaugural meeting on 16 December 2016 and a copy of the MDAF Communiqué, which includes the terms of reference, can be accessed at my Department’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
- Funding of $19.2 million has been provided to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) to establish up to 220 Local Drug Action Teams (LDATs) across Australia.
- LDATs will provide a structure for the community to work together to reduce alcohol and other drug misuse within their local communities by strengthening prevention activities to reduce the demand for drugs such as crystal methamphetamine (ice).
- 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.
- The first Grant Round for communities wishing to form an LDAT was opened by the ADF on 23 December 2016 and closed on 8 February 2017. It is anticipated the first 40 LDATs will be announced by the end of March 2017. More details on the LDAT program can be found on the ADF website.
Positive Choices Web Portal
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. Funding of $1.1 million is being provided for ongoing maintenance of the web-portal and for further expansion and development of new resources, including resources for Indigenous parents, teachers and students.
Good Sports Program
- Funding of $4.6 million has been provided to the ADF to expand the Good Sports Program to include a module on managing illegal drugs. At its core, the program helps build community capacity and confidence to address issues and harms relating to illegal drugs at a local level.
- The target audience will be clubs with a higher proportion of young adult members, focusing initially on regional and rural communities who are experiencing issues with illegal drug use or are at risk of illegal drug use harms.
- This new module will 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.
- Sporting Clubs are encouraged to contact the ADF and join the Good Sports Program (www.adf.org.au) if they wish to be involved.
Cracks in the Ice Community Toolkit
- The development of the online ‘Cracks in the Ice’ Community Toolkit. The website aims to improve access to evidence-based information about methamphetamine, raise awareness about the potential harms and mental health problems associated with methamphetamine use, and provide information about how to access services and/or support. While the website is currently in development you can subscribe at cracksintheice.org.au to be notified once the Cracks in the Ice Community Toolkit website has been launched.
Primary Health Networks (PHNs)
- 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. PHNs have undertaken extensive planning and consultation to inform their commissioning of drug and alcohol treatment services. This planning and consultation has been vital to ensure that drug and alcohol treatment services commissioned by PHNs are informed by local needs and priorities to maximise the benefits of the Commonwealth’s investment under the NIAS. All 31 PHN Needs Assessments and Drug and Alcohol Treatment Activity Work Plans have been approved.
It is important to note that funding to PHNs is broader than commissioning drug and alcohol treatment services. All PHNs have made significant progress to ensure that commissioned services improve regional health integration and coordination to provide the foundation for a sustainable drug and alcohol treatment system into the future. Many PHNs have commenced delivery of commissioned drug and alcohol treatment services in their region with the remainder of PHNs finalising commissioning processes to commence service delivery early in 2017.
Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and Brief Intervention (BI)
- 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 Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and Brief Intervention (BI) (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 expansion will increase opportunities for effective and opportunistic screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment for substance use disorders, including ice.
Medicare Benefits Schedule Items
- 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. The items benefit patients in rural and regional Australia through the provision of improved rebates for telehealth and increase patient access by promoting workforce development.
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 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.
Objective: Research and Data
Centre for Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern
- A new Centre of Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern is being established to support clinical research into new treatment options, training of health professionals and evaluating treatment effectiveness. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre 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 is expected to be operational in early 2017.
The National Surveillance System for Alcohol and other Drug Misuse and Overdose Project
- 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.