Of Substance

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Of Substance e-Bulletin, 24 May 2012

Our last e-Bulletin about new funding arrangements predicted some big changes ahead for the Australian drug and alcohol sector. In today's special e-Bulletin, we update you on the latest developments.

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Jenny Tinworth

Managing Editor


open signReprieve for some AOD service providers
Following recent announcements that scores of alcohol and other drug (AOD) service providers would no longer receive Federal Government funding, some of those services have been granted a three-year reprieve.

It appears the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has listened and responded positively to the concern expressed by many AOD sector leaders and service providers about the impact the funding changes would have on people who have problems with substance use, particularly vulnerable groups such as Indigenous populations, families and people with a dual diagnosis of drug and mental health problems.

The announcement and the sector's early reaction was profiled two weeks ago in Of Substance's e-Bulletin. At the time, DoHA announced that of 526 applicants who applied for funding, only 187 had been shortlisted to receive a grant. Among the service providers who missed out were organisations that had been working with drug and alcohol problems for many years, along with some who had applied for new initiatives.

Last Friday, DoHA announced that an additional 72 applicants would receive funding for three years, while it worked to map how AOD services could be delivered in the future to avoid gaps and duplication of resources. The announcement applies to two government funds:
In a statement provided on its website, DoHA said that the additional applicants would receive funding because they provided services in areas where there were potential critical service gaps. It said, 'While this will help ensure service continuity over the next three years, we will also take a more strategic, whole of system view of drug and alcohol funding in Australia that builds on the National Drug Strategy and work already being undertaken by governments and within the sector to better plan for the delivery of drug and alcohol services and improve treatment outcomes.'

The statement promised that DoHA would work with state and territory governments, peak bodies and other key stakeholders in this process.

This new announcement means that 251 applicants for funding were not shortlisted and have not received a three-year extension grant. These applicants included existing services as well as new, previously unfunded ones. Applicants who had been receiving Federal funding have been given an extra month's funding until July 31 so that they can finalise their services. As many organisations submitted applications for a number of programs, it is not known how many service providers will close their doors.