We all need it, we all would love more of it and it’s a subject that can get people fired up (particularly if you’re the one not getting any!).
I’ve been talking about money a lot in the last couple of weeks, particularly following the tabling of the 2020-21 Tasmanian State Budget in November.
To catch you up, because of COVID-19 this budget was expected to be ‘brutal’ and one that would ‘disappoint many’.
This is why we were so surprised to learn that the Tasmanian Government allocated $4.9 million in new funds into the Tasmanian alcohol, tobacco and other drugs sector.
While unexpected, we give thanks to Minister Jeremy Rockliff for delivering on his commitment to fund additional resources and new programs and services that will assist Tasmanians seeking support for their alcohol, tobacco or other drug health concerns.
Yet despite this commitment, many are aware that the ATDC has been critical of this funding announcement.
This is true, and it has nothing to do with the amount of funding but with the imbalance of where the funding has been allocated.
That is, almost all of the $4.9 million that has been committed has been flagged to flow to the Department of Health to boost the Tasmanian Government’s own alcohol and drug services and programs.
Now to be clear, the ATDC is exceptionally pleased to see an injection of funds towards our government sector colleagues because they have been significantly underfunded for a very long time.
But we were alarmed to see only 2.5% of the $4.9 million in new funds get allocated to organisations in the community-managed sector.
When most of the alcohol and other drug services across Tasmania are delivered by the community sector, this result is understandably frustrating. Particularly when we know these organisations are also working under immense pressure and responding to increasing demand and waiting lists.
Many of the conversations that I have been having since the budget was tabled have been focused on trying to address the critical funding priorities of our members, and I have spoken with the Minister and a range of representatives from the Department of Health.
These discussions will continue into 2021 and when they occur, I will also continue to challenge a seemingly ‘us and them’ attitude that seems to exist when it comes to the topic of allocating funding to support services. There have been a number of comments made over the past couple of weeks that the Tasmanian Government alcohol and other drug services and the community managed alcohol and other drug sector need to ‘take turns’ when it comes to who receives funding in each budget cycle (albeit sometimes neither receives anything).
So as I turn my mind to what lies ahead in 2021, I strongly believe that the work that is about to commence to deliver the Reform Agenda for Alcohol and other Drug Services will not only improve access to services, but will also provide us with an invaluable opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between the government and non-government sectors and to see this reflected in the allocation of funding in future State budgets.
Because regardless of who is delivering the services, we are part of the same system working towards achieving the same goal which is to deliver timely, effective and quality alcohol, tobacco and other drug services to Tasmanians, when and where they need it.
Chief Executive Officer