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 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 a growing number of dependent ice users.
The Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce 2015
found the need for more coordinated and more targeted efforts to reduce the demand for and supply of ice. The Taskforce acknowledged the critical role of law enforcement efforts, but recommended 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
In response to the Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce 2015
, the NIAS was developed, receiving Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement in December 2015.
The Australian Government has provided $298.2 million over four years from 1 July 2016, which will significantly strengthen the response to ice use in Australia, building upon a wide range of existing efforts already undertaken by all governments.
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.
The additional Commonwealth investment will reduce the harms ice use causes Australia through five areas of action: support for families and communities; targeted prevention; investment in treatment and workforce; focused law enforcement; and better research and data, including:
- $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 alcohol and other harmful drug misuse, including the use of ice.
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)
- In response to a recommendation of the National Ice Taskforce Report, a new MDAF was formed to oversee the development, implementation and monitoring of Australia’s national drug policy framework, including the NIAS.
- The forum consists of health and justice Ministers with responsibility for alcohol and drug policy and law enforcement and reports directly to COAG.
- The MDAF held its inaugural meeting on 16 December 2016.
- The MDAF met most recently on 14 June 2018. 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.
Action: Families and Communities
Local Drug Action Teams (LDATs)
- Funding of $19.2 million has been provided to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) to establish up to 220 LDATs across Australia by the end of 2020.
- LDATs focus on delivering local health promotion, community-led education and mentoring programs, early intervention and prevention programs, and provide support for vulnerable people to minimise their risk of alcohol and other drug (including ice) related harms.
- LDATs are made up of partnerships which can 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 27 May 2018, the Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, announced a further 92 successful LDATs for round three, bringing the total number of LDATs across Australia to 172.
- A range of resources to assist communities and further information on the LDAT programs is available through the ADF website.
Positive Choices Web Portal
- The Positive Choices online web-portal was launched in December 2015 and provides information, tools and resources on the harms of alcohol and other drugs for parents, teachers and students. Improving access to evidence-based drug prevention resources helps parents and school staff to provide children with trusted and up-to-date information.
- Positive Choices also provides parents with information and guidance about how to have important conversations with kids about drugs.
- Positive Choices was informed by input from teachers, parents and students across Australia, and was developed in collaboration by researchers from the Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the National Research Institute.
- Additional funding of $2.4 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.
National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline (1800 250 015)
- The National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline became operational in July 2017 and is one of the resources promoted through the National Drugs Campaign, providing direct access to information, counselling support and services.
- For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015. It will automatically direct you to the Alcohol and Drug Information Service in your state or territory.
National Drugs Campaign
- 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 the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline and the continued rollout of the Positive Choices and Cracks in the Ice online portals.
Cracks in the Ice Community Toolkit and App
- 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.
- The Cracks in the Ice smartphone application was launched in January 2018. The App takes information from the Cracks in the Ice Online Toolkit and has information about the effects of ice, tips for how to stay safe and advice about where, when and how to get support.
- Users of the App can search for specific information, bookmark information and resources, and share content with friends, family and colleagues via email or social media.
- An additional $2.6 million over two years (from 2018-19) has been provided to support the maintenance and development of additional content to the Cracks in the Ice community toolkit and ensure the availability of culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This additional funding will also support the development and implementation of targeted marketing and promotion strategies to enable the toolkit to continue to be recognised as a trusted source of evidence-based information.
Good Sports Program
- The Government continued funding for the Good Sports Program in the 2014-15 Budget, committing $19 million over four years. Through the 2018-19 Budget, the Government provided a further $10 million to extend the Program until 2019-20.
- Good Sports aims to encourage cultural change through the provision of high quality alcohol and drug information and education services, community capacity building programs and advocacy.
- As at 30 June 2018 there were approximately 8,782 clubs participating in Good Sports.
- In response to the Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce 2015, the Government provided additional funding of $4.6 million over four years to expand the Good Sports Program to include the module Tackling Illegal Drugs (TID). 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 TID Program is an extension of the ADF’s successful grass-roots Good Sports Program, which encourages cultural change in behaviours and attitudes to drug and alcohol use in sporting clubs.
- The TID Program will deliver 75 forums, follow-up workshops and ongoing one-on-one support to clubs across Australia by 2020, resulting in 1,200 clubs engaged and an estimated 350,000 community club members. To date, 38 forums have been delivered.
Action: Treatment and the Workforce
- 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, 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.
- As part of their roles as commissioners of drug and alcohol treatment services, PHNs undertake rigorous needs assessment of their local communities. These evidence-based assessments are used to identify local treatment priorities and PHNs use this information to guide them to commission a service mix reflective of their regions’ treatment needs.
- 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.
- All PHNs have commenced delivery of commissioned drug and alcohol treatment services in their regions and, as of June 2018, PHNs have delivered an additional 378 drug and alcohol treatment services based on the needs of their local communities under the NIAS.
Expansion of Counselling Online
- In October 2016, the expanded Counselling Online program was launched, improving access to online interventions and improving health outcomes for users accessing the service.
- Counselling Online allows people to communicate with a professional counsellor about personal alcohol and drug use or that of someone they care about.
- Counselling Online is a free counselling service that aims to improve community access to drug treatment and referral services, particularly in rural and regional areas, by offering online text-based counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Treatment Framework
- The Department of Health has engaged a consultant to work with the National Drug Strategy Committee National Treatment Framework Working Group to inform a National Treatment Framework for drug and alcohol treatment services. The Working Group includes membership from the Commonwealth, all jurisdictions and representatives from the drug and alcohol peak bodies.
- 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 required.
Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and Brief Intervention (BI)
- Funding of $1.7 million was provided to the University of Adelaide under the NIAS to continue and expand the ASSIST-BI program across primary health, mental health, community correctional settings and emergency care sectors. The expansion is strengthening the capacity of the primary health and welfare sector to identify and intervene early or refer to clients to treatment.
- ASSIST-BI provides a simple method for health professionals to screen for hazardous and 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. It provides online and face-to-face training for both undergraduate and postgraduate students, nurses, general practitioners, accident and emergency workers and primary health care workers. Further information can be found on the University of Adelaide's website.
National Quality Framework
- The establishment of a National Quality Framework for drug and alcohol treatment services is an action item of the NIAS.
- The Government, through the Department of Health, has been working with all states and territories to develop the National Quality Framework.
- The purpose of the National Quality Framework is to achieve positive health outcomes through improving the quality and safety of drug and alcohol treatment services for consumers and their families.
- The National Quality Framework will set a nationally consistent quality benchmark which consumers can expect from drug and alcohol treatment providers, both government and non-government funded, that provide evidence informed treatment to address alcohol and other drug dependence or describes or promotes itself as a service that provides such treatment.
- The National Quality Framework for drug and alcohol treatment services was endorsed by the MDAF in June 2018.
- Treatment service providers will be required to comply with the National Quality Framework, through contractual and jurisdictional arrangements, through regulatory or other processes as set by individual jurisdictions as appropriate.
- 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.
Renew and disseminate National Comorbidity Guidelines
- 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.
- In March 2016, funding was provided for the dissemination of evidence-based treatment guidelines and training to assist with managing co-occurring alcohol, drug and mental health conditions through a webpage that hosts an interactive copy of the National Comorbidity Guidelines and an online training program. The Comorbidity Guidelines website was released in December 2017.
- An online platform (website) for training, education and resources has been developed by NDARC and was launched in December 2017. The website provides evidence-based information, training and resources to assist with the management of co-occurring, or comorbid, alcohol and other drug and mental health issues, and is based on the National Comorbidity Guidelines.
Action: 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 per cent increase in drug-related information reports provided to Crime Stoppers Australia during the campaign activity period, and an increase of 143 per cent in the number of amphetamine-related information reports.
Action: Research and Data
National Centre for Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern
- A 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 National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) is a consortium led by the NDARC, with the National Drug Research Institute, the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction and St Vincent’s Health Australia as consortium partners.
- The NCCRED is still being established, but will be a national entity that supports clinical treatment interventions across the alcohol and other drug spectrum from prevention to dependence and through primary and community care through to specialist and tertiary care. NCCRED will also integrate its work with other relevant professional, academic bodies, relevant governments and communities. The Centre will respond in a rapid, collaborative and flexible way to emerging substances that are prevalent, persistent and harmful.
- The aims and objectives of the Centre are to develop, implement and disseminate innovative and effective evidence-based treatment interventions that can be applied to the use of methamphetamine in the first instance and then to new and emerging substances. In addition, the Centre will seek to develop and implement a system that allows for a rapid flexible and collaborative response to emerging substances that are having prevalent, persistent and harmful health and community impacts. The Centre will also leverage evidence-based intervention methodologies to develop and equip the health and medical research workforce.
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.
Increasing the quality and quantity of drug use data in Australia
- 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.