The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed the announcement by the ACT Government that the 2022-23 Budget will include more than $13 million in additional supports for alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services in the Territory.
Significant investments will go toward the continued development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential rehabilitation service at the Watson Health Precinct, and the transition of the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm to a residential program. There are also plans to establish a new support service for families and carers of people who use drugs.
ACTCOSS, alongside partners including the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation & Advocacy (CAHMA), the ACT Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Association (ATODA) and Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Services, has long called for increased investment in AOD services in Canberra.
ACTCOSS Head of Policy, Dr Gemma Killen said: “We appreciate the ACT Government’s approach to problematic drug dependence as a health issue rather than a justice issue. We hope this new funding will ensure that people are able to receive care and treatment in culturally safe and supported ways.
“This funding is particularly important as we move to decriminalise small amounts of certain drugs in the ACT. As people begin to feel free from stigma and the threat of criminal punishment, they will be more likely and more open to seeking treatment.
“We know that AOD services in the ACT perform especially well, with 75% of people receiving services reporting reduced substance use, and 81% reporting improved general health. However, under-resourcing, a lack of residential rehabilitation programs and long wait lists mean many people are unable to access treatment when needed.
“Improving access to supports for those facing problematic alcohol or drug dependence will lessen strain on the health and justice systems and will lead to better outcomes for some of the most disadvantaged people in Canberra.
“We look forward to seeing the development of these programs and facilities and celebrate the significant impact they will have on individuals, families and the broader Canberra community,” Dr Killen said.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Gemma Killen, Head of Policy, ACTCOSS on 02 6202 7200 or
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.