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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 24 September 2015) . . Page.. 3515 ..

Nationally over three years there has been a shift in use from the powdered form of methamphetamine to the purer crystal form—from 22 per cent to 50 per cent. The effects of crystal methamphetamine can be devastating, as we know, for those who use the drug, their friends and their families as well as the community as a whole. We know this drug can trigger very significant episodes of violence and psychotic behaviour which is highly unpredictable.

As part of the budget, therefore, the government has announced funding of an additional $800,000, increasing our total funding for drug services to $17.2 million for this financial year. From these additional funds a range of community organisations will be supported to improve their response, including the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association, or ATODA as they are known, to increase capacity and assist services to ensure that interventions are made more accessible and relevant to those experiencing crystal methamphetamine use. Six non-government organisations who provide treatment and support will also receive approximately $95,000 each to increase their capacity to treat patients and to reduce waiting time.

In addition, since 2014 we have funded a range of targeted health promotion programs, and this includes two grants totalling just over $25,000 from the ACT’s health promotion innovation fund to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education to help pregnant women get better and more timely advice around issues associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. There was $5,000 to Lyneham High School to support its school drug education program for year 10 students, and nearly $160,000, again to ATODA, for their community action against alcohol campaign, which is focused on reducing alcohol-related harm in our city. Of course, we are also continuing to commit funds for drug treatment and support services for the Indigenous community. The Ngunnawal bush healing farm, an alcohol and other drug residential rehabilitation facility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is now under development in the Tidbinbilla valley.

The smoking rate, of course, remains an issue of concern as well. Although we have a smoking rate lower than the national average, more work is still to be done. I am pleased the ACT has a relatively low smoking rate compared to other states and territories at 9.9 per cent of adults reporting daily smoking compared with a national figure of nearly 13 per cent. That is a good result, but clearly more work still needs to be done.

These are just part of the responses the government is undertaking to address substance abuse issues in our community. It is a complex and difficult area, but I am very pleased the government is making the investments it is and working with and supporting our community sector partners in this regard.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, can you please outline what action the government is taking to address drug and alcohol issues in the ACT, including the types of treatment services offered by ACT Health?

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