Australia's National Drug Strategy beyond 2009: consultation paper
At the Council of Australian Governments meeting in November 2008, Commonwealth and State and Territory governments made a renewed commitment to closing the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by addressing Indigenous disadvantage in the areas of life expectancy, health, education and employment. Substance misuse issues play a significant role in disparities in life expectancy and health.
Smoking is the number one cause of chronic disease among Indigenous Australians. In 2003, smoking was responsible for one-fifth of the deaths and accounted for 12 per cent of the total burden of disease among Indigenous Australians. About half of Indigenous Australians smoke daily, twice the daily smoking prevalence of the non-Indigenous population. Under the COAG Closing the Gap Health National Partnership, Australian Governments are investing over $1.6 billion over four years to address chronic disease, including significant investments to tackle smoking.
Alcohol and illicit drug use continues to be an issue in Indigenous communities. Community based approaches to address these issues have been shown to be effective. In addition, the roll-out of Opal fuel has had some success in reducing the harms from petrol sniffing in communities.
Over the last six years the National Drug Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Complementary Action Plan (the CAP) has provided the framework for addressing drug and alcohol issues that are specifically relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Where should efforts be focused in reducing substance use and associated harms in Indigenous communities?
How could Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples needs be better addressed through the main National Drug Strategy Framework?
In that context, would a separate National Drug Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Complementary Action Plan continue to have value?