ATDC 2024 Election Statement

ATDC CEO Dr Jackie Hallam calls on the 2024 Tasmanian state election candidates to show leadership and to prioritise a clear commitment to reducing alcohol and drug related harm in Tasmania.

Alcohol and other drug services are shrinking in the regions across Tasmania. Community managed services are having to make difficult decisions directly linked to inflation and cost pressures. This means laying off staff and the closure of some programs to keep their doors open.

This is against the backdrop of increasing demand for service and greater wait times for Tasmanians to get the assistance they want.

Rates of use of alcohol and other drugs in Tasmania are above the national average and the cost to our health system and the wider community is significant.

Research shows that evidence based alcohol and other drug treatment, support and education lowers harm. Community managed programs reach into our communities, often in areas where there is a lack of other health services such as bulk billing GPs.

The ATDC calls on Tasmanian leaders to show courage, compassion and to commit to supporting and providing the funding required to drive positive change in Tasmania with regard to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

“There are abundant opportunities to build on the work underpinning the draft Tasmanian Drug Strategy (soon to be released),drawing on the latest evidence and listening to those who are directly affected to fund the services that help Tasmanians who need support for alcohol or drug use.”

The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania (ATDC) is the peak body supporting community organisations, and the people they assist, to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drug related harm.

The ATDC advocates for:

1. Greater investment in community based alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and support programs so to respond to demand and drive down alcohol and other drug related harm, reducing the wider impact on hospitals and prisons.

“We must provide a roadmap for increased investment in prevention, treatment and support programs as these are the drivers of change in people who want assistance with their alcohol or other drug use. Such programs have not had any real increase in funding across the last decade, any minor increase provided has been eroded by inflationary cost pressures and in most cases the quantum of funding has gone backwards. Such an investment provides a sound return by creating healthier and safer communities.”

2. Support our community sector by making changes to existing funding arrangements to ensure stability, continuity and to support our workforce.

In concert with other peak bodies, we are calling on longer term funding contracts for the community sector. Short funding contracts create enormous inefficiencies for our workforce, who are often challenged by staff retention due to the insecurity of contract length and salary comparisons with other state and territories. This ultimately affects continuity of care for clients. Indexation on contracts is another significant issue and the lack of action is eroding the capacity of our organisations to respond to demand in the community.

“The ATDC is aware that community organisations are reducing services in Tasmania because of increased cost pressures. At a time when demand has increased, some services are having to turn people away and two key providers have advised of closure if not adequately funded.”

3. Tasmanians have a right to access healthcare free from stigma and discrimination, and this includes people who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

This is embedded in Department of Health strategy and more recently raised as a priority by a group of Tasmanians affected by substance use. While it is a broadly accepted principle in health care, we still have a way to go ensuring that the Tasmanian health system is truly responsive and welcoming to people who use alcohol and other drugs.

4. Continue to invest in, listen to, and include people with a lived/living experience in improving the lives of Tasmanians and making our services better, because when we do this transformation occurs.

Through the inception of the Lived Experience Advocate Service, people with a lived/living experience have been strongly encouraged to have their say about how healthcare can be more responsive. The peer workforce has also been introduced into Tasmanian treatment models of care and is already making a significant difference. The time is now to fund a representative lived experience organisation as exists in the mental health sector and every other state and territory in Australia. The government must see through its commitment to fund the establishment phase of this goal as identified in the Reform Agenda.

5. According to an EMRS poll in February 2023, the Tasmanian public do not believe that people found in in possession of small amounts of cannabis should be subject to a criminal record. We are calling on political candidates to take on board what Tasmanian people are wanting to see in their leaders when they speak to the issues.

Let’s ask the questions and be willing to try new things that have been shown to work in other jurisdictions.

For further discussion or to arrange a meeting please reach out directly to:

Dr Jackie Hallam (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Chief Executive Officer
Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania
03 6231 5002 | 0438 347 056 |