Page 3934 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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The government agrees to five of the standing committee’s recommendations. Seven of the recommendations are agreed to in principle and 11 have been noted. The government is committed to improving access to family-inclusive services for children, young people and grandparents who are experiencing difficulties as a result of parental substance abuse. Strengthening targeted community education initiatives and continuing to develop resilience-building education programs to upper primary and early high school children remains a priority within the context of the government’s new curriculum framework for ACT schools.

Workforce development initiatives that enable the sector to recruit and retain knowledgeable, skilled workers in the alcohol and other drug sector is recognised as being fundamental to the provision of quality services. Working effectively with people with a dual diagnosis is recognised as the core business of both specialist mental health and alcohol and other drug services, and responsibility for mainstreaming dual diagnosis within each sector sits with each individual service.

The key elements to success in this area are partnership, consultation and supervision, reciprocal rotations and placements, workforce development and strong leadership. At the same time there needs to be some service reform in terms of where and how services will be provided. I noted the progress made already by staff from Mental Health ACT undertaking specialised training in core units from the certificate IV in alcohol and other drug work and undertaking two-week supernumerary placements in the alcohol and drug program’s detoxification unit, opioid treatment service and consultation nurse and counselling team.

I am advised that in 2008 both Centacare and the Ted Noffs Foundation received commonwealth funding for the next three years under the improved services for people with drug and alcohol problems and mental health initiative. The aim of this initiative is to build the capacity of non-government alcohol and other drug treatment services to better identify and respond to people with alcohol and other drug problems and mental illness. The Youth Coalition of the ACT has also recently been funded by the commonwealth under the same initiative to assist and support non-government ACT alcohol and other drug services to undertake service improvement initiatives to better identify and manage clients who are experiencing co-morbid alcohol and other drug and mental health issues.

The ACT government’s response to the report’s recommendations is consistent with the strategic directions of the national drug strategy, Australia’s integrated framework 2004 to 2009 and the ACT alcohol, tobacco and other drug strategy. The ACT government has significantly increased funding in this area over the past four years. In December 2007, the government committed $10.8 million to the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation facility, which will provide a culturally appropriate service for the Indigenous community to participate in the rehabilitation and recovery process. In 2006-07, the ACT government committed $50,000 recurrently to enable Directions ACT to offer a dedicated detox program for women and women with children on dedicated weeks throughout the year.

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