The National Drug Strategy 2010-2015: consultation draft
Commitment to workforce developmentAn appropriately skilled and qualified workforce is critical to achieving and sustaining effective responses to drug misuse.
The National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 is committed to addressing a range of factors impacting on the ability of the workforce to function with maximum effectiveness.
Who is the workforce?The Australian alcohol and other drug workforce involved in prevention and minimisation of drug misuse is highly varied spanning diverse employment sectors, industries, communities and cultures. It includes anyone who comes into contact with drug misuse as part of their role, including health professionals; police, Customs and Border Protection officers, corrections workers; teachers; hospitality staff and community and welfare workers.
Exposure to people who misuse drugs and the consequences of their drug misuse varies across the workforce. Each of the following groups has unique and specific workforce needs that require comprehensive and systematic development:
- Alcohol and other drugs workers in treatment, prevention, health promotion and community services comprise multiple occupations that are engaged in a wide variety of roles. These largely fall into two groups: alcohol and other drugs specialists and alcohol and other drugs generalist workers. The mental health workforce has a close professional affiliation with the alcohol and other drug workforce, often sharing an overlapping client base.
- In their day-to-day operations, the law enforcement workforce, including police, Customs and Border Protection officers, and corrections officers regularly engage with the consequences of drug misuse.
- Ambulance workers and paramedics, police and corrections officers are faced daily with the traumatic effects of drug misuse.
- The general health workforce, including general practitioners and other primary healthcare workers, and hospital workers, have regular exposure to drug misuse and its consequences and responsibility for the appropriate prescribing of pharmaceuticals.
- Specialist groups such as Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse health workers deal with a range of complex community needs.
- Pharmacists and the pharmacy workforce often have close contact with drug misuse through their commitment to the provision of opioid substitution treatment and needle and syringe programs. They also have an important role in precursor control and prevention of pharmaceutical misuse.
- The education sector plays a key role in prevention and early intervention of drug misuse.
- Community and support services, including workers from the welfare, child protection, homelessness, unemployment, income support and youth sectors all regularly encounter people experiencing the harms associated with drug misuse.
- Hospitality workers encounter the harms associated with alcohol and other drug misuse on a day-to-day basis.
What challenges face the workforce?The following have been identified as workforce development priorities for the next five years of the strategy:
- Minimum qualifications of workers and accreditation of services. Work has commenced in a number of jurisdictions to examine ways to ensure minimum qualifications for workers. This will include feasible options for upskilling workers and accrediting services.
- Support for the workforce in establishing and maintaining worker wellbeing.
- Build the capacity of the AOD workforce to effectively respond to current and emerging alcohol and other drugs issues including as they relate to as older populations, youth and the opportunities and challenges of new technologies.
- Build the capacity of the treatment workforce to strengthen outcomes from its work.
- Build the capacity of the general health workforce to perform brief interventions and identify drug misuse issues.
- Utilise new technologies to make workforce development more accessible.
- Enhance workers' research literacy by facilitating research partnerships between clinicians, policy makers and researchers.
- Address specific issues of workforce supply such as the impact of the ageing workforce and the small Indigenous workforce.