The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania has joined the chorus of disappointment across the Tasmanian community sector in response to the 2019-20 State Budget.
ATDC chief executive Alison Lai said that the Budget was sending a clear message that Tasmania’s issue with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs was not a priority for this government.
“We are aware of only one announcement for alcohol, tobacco and other drug services or programs, being a commitment to The Salvation Army to continue funding for their successful Street Teams program in southern Tasmania.” Ms Lai said.
“We know that this commitment didn’t come easy and adds to the frustration of our members who continue to express concerns that Tasmania’s ever-growing issues with alcohol, and other drugs are not being acknowledged by this government.”
With waiting lists across Tasmania for people attempting to access alcohol, and other drug treatment services and insufficient funding being invested into preventative programs, Ms Lai said that the 2019-20 Budget was exceptionally disappointing, and woefully inadequate to say the least, given their small request for support.
“Our organisation was seeking an exceptionally modest investment from this budget of $75,000 towards a project that would have consolidated the collection of alcohol, and other drug data for our members, the community sector and the Tasmanian public service,” she said.
“This funding would have been matched by Primary Health Tasmania, and the Tasmanian Government knew this.
“They were also aware that this work would have strengthened our understanding of drug issues across Tasmania and provided this government with the necessary information to ensure they are investing in the right services to meet demand – information that the Tasmanian Government does not currently have.
“Their unwillingness to contribute the equivalent of 0.03% of the additional $240 million going into the Tasmanian Health Service beggars belief.
“Alcohol and other drugs continue to be a key contributing factor to a multitude of individual and community issues ranging from mental health, homelessness and domestic violence to public assaults, burglary and drink-driving.
“The ATDC continues to be highly troubled that when armed with this knowledge, there continues to be an absence of political will to address it, even when presented with collaborative strategies requiring what would be considered a negligible investment on behalf of the government.”