Module 5: young people, society and AOD: learner's workbook

7.1 Overview of current national drug policies and programs

Page last updated: 2004

Australia has a range of drug policies and programs that have been developed over the years. The development of legislation and policies should be viewed as an ongoing process that has been influenced by various factors such as changes in government and changes in community values and attitudes. Changes in staff at policy making levels can also influence the direction and purpose of policies and programs.

The National Drug Strategy, launched in 1985 was the starting point for a range of policies based on a harm minimisation approach. These policies have had a significant impact on the everyday work of frontline workers, especially in the way they interact and intervene with young people.

The development of national alcohol and drug policies in Australia featured the following key initiatives:

  • 1985 - Launch of the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse
  • 1991 - Development of the National Drug Strategic Plan
  • 1993 - Launch of the National Drug Strategy
  • 1996 - Launch of the National Public Health Partnership
  • 1998 - Development of the National Drug Strategic Framework 1998-99 to 2002-03
National Drug Strategic Framework
Diversity of approaches to drug issues in Australia

National Drug Strategic Framework

The National Drug Strategic Framework provides a national policy framework to reduce the harm caused by drugs. It identifies eight priority areas for action:
  1. Increasing the community's understanding of drug-related harm
  2. Building partnerships
  3. Links with other strategies
  4. Supply reduction
  5. Preventing use and harm
  6. Access to treatment
  7. Professional education and training
  8. Research data and development
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey series is the data source used to monitor trends and evaluate the progress of the National Drug Strategy. These surveys provide data on behaviour, knowledge and attitudes relating to drug use among young people aged 14 years and over.Top of page

Diversity of approaches to drug issues in Australia

As well as the National Drug Strategic Framework, Australia has developed a range of policies and programs that aim to improve the health, social and economic outcomes for both the community and the individual. These include:
  • Prevention efforts which employ the use of social marketing campaigns and the distribution of information products
  • Community development projects
  • Peer education programs and school-based drug education
  • Efforts to help people cease their use and/or help prevent the most harmful consequences of using drugs
  • Efforts aimed at disrupting both the supply of illicit drugs entering Australia and the production and distribution of illicit drugs within Australia.