National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 Roundtable Consultation Report

1 Executive Summary

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The roundtable consultation conducted on behalf of the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide during April 2010 with invited participants from a number of peak body organisations, health, education, police, corrections, liquor licensing, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The participants attending each roundtable were asked for their views and opinions on the development of the next phase of the National Drug Strategy. The Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy’s National Drug Strategy Consultation Paper was used as the basis for discussions. This report summaries the key issues and concerns discussed during the roundtable consultation.

Participants generally endorsed the success and enduring relevance of the three pillars that underpin the National Drug Strategy. There was general consensus for the strategy to be drafted in a manner that directly engages the Australian community and brings a more contemporary approach to the issues as they relate to society today. These recent developments include the increasing interdependence in service delivery across the health, housing, education, law enforcement and community services sectors; increasing levels of disaffection; and intergenerational patterns of drug use.

The roundtable discussions sought that the NDS include an updated mission statement, with clear linkages to a reduced set of objectives, which are further informed by relevant actions. Within this updated framework participants sought that the NDS provide more specific guidance in relation to sub strategies for alcohol, tobacco, other licit drugs and illicit drugs.

Participants felt strongly that the NDS should recognise the relationship between the social determinants of health and wellbeing and substance misuse. This was driven by the views of many participants that to effectively treat and support someone with a drug dependency that it was important to also give consideration to the wide range of economic, social and health issues that they are also likely to be facing.

Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use remain the primary concerns for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Participants generally supported the existence of the Complementary Action Plan where the links to the national strategy are strengthened by bringing attention to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander substance misuse issues.

Participants identified a range of emerging issues and new trends that may impact on drug and alcohol use over the next five years. These included an increase in the misuse of prescription medicines, the role of the internet as a means for sourcing drugs and equipment and a vehicle for information exchange. Social networking sites were seen as presenting both an opportunity and a challenge in that they both present an avenue for education for key target groups, but that they also provide a means for sourcing, supplying and/or the chemicals and equipment required for the manufacturing of drugs.

Participants noted that service providers are increasingly being challenged by the needs of clients with complex conditions. Participants identified the need for national policy to support a holistic approach to these clients. Integrated service delivery across alcohol and other drug sector and other community services, where funding is flexible (and follows the patient) was seen as critical to providing effective service delivery.

Participants felt that there is a need to better engage with consumers and for the Strategy to recognise the role families play in providing support and assisting people with alcohol and other drug issues to be re-integrated into the community. Participants in each roundtable noted the challenges presented by both the ageing population and the ageing workforce. By considering the social determinants of health and wellbeing participants thought that the National Drug Strategy would be comprehensive in its connections to other relevant government policies related to employment, families, housing and education.

There were strong calls for the development of a national workforce strategy to address the workforce development needs of those sectors dealing with alcohol and other drug issues. These include:

The roundtable participants raised the need for the governance structure to better engage with the broader community and with the NGO sector. Participants sought transparency around roles and decision making processes relating to the National Drug Strategy.

Participants debated the pros and cons of adopting performance measures. Participants suggested the adoption of a core set of indicators that demonstrate progress such as population indicators such as smoking rates or a delay in the age of cannabis uptake. Alternatively participants suggested that indicators may be focused on the achievement of outcomes for example, death, crime, disease, economic costs impacts.

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