Funding crisis for drug and alcohol services

Cuts of nearly $200 million are due to take effect in July affecting so-called Commonwealth “health flexible funds”, including non-government substance-use program providers and groups focused on outreach work in rural and Indigenous health.

Rebecca MacBean, spokesperson for the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), said the funding cuts, foreshadowed in the 2014 budget, would disrupt intensive drug and alcohol services around the country – and without replacement.

“It’s critical. These are services that are full all the time,” Ms MacBean said. “We are dealing with people who would otherwise clog up the hospital system or end up in the criminal justice system.”

While the drug and alcohol sector estimates it could spend double its current funding just to meet existing demand, experienced staff are already quitting or looking for other employment because of the threat of losing their jobs