'Ice' money restores recent shortfall
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he has invested $300 million in the drug treatment sector as a response to the recent ‘ice’ taskforce.
The federal government's National Ice Taskforce report was released Sunday, combined with the four-year strategy to improve treatment, aftercare, education, prevention, support and community engagement to tackle the impacts of crystal meth.
The response includes a $241 million “boost” to the alcohol and drug treatment sector, with funding going to the 31 Primary Health Networks (PHN) set up by the Abbott government last year.
Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch from the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association says the decision to distribute money through the “incredibly patchy” PHNs may not be the best idea.
“Many are still in a changeover state from Medicare locals and not properly developed,” she said.
“How are those resources going to flow through the PHNs when many would not even have relationships with the community organisations that are doing alcohol and other drug work?”
The Opposition says Mr Turnbull has put back money taken away by Mr Abbott.
A significant amount of funds were effectively cut in the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s first two budgets, generally by not renewing existing contracts for drug services, among others.
It included close to $800 million cut from the Health Flexible Funds, which supported alcohol and drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
There was also a reduction of NGO treatment grants, some of which have been extended for limited terms.
The minister responsible for drug and alcohol policy, Fiona Nash, said the “new” money would help to reduce demand for the drug.