Everyone loves a bargain, and we all love that satisfying feeling we get when we know that we’ve saved ourselves some money without compromising on quality.
While this is something that we celebrate in many aspects of our personal lives (3 pairs of shoes for the price of 2, don’t mind if I do!) it’s not something that we want to encourage in the provision of health services, particularly when investing money in alcohol and other drug services.
I’ll explain – and it requires me to ask you to cast your mind back to my last CEO update where I expressed concern about the 2022-23 State Budget and what it would (or would not) provide for alcohol and other drug programs and services over the next 12 months.
The budget has since been tabled, and the Tasmanian Government has taken great care to ensure we don’t go backwards, but in saying that, we aren’t going forwards either.
Rather, it’s my opinion that what the most recent budget has highlighted is a worrying trend of attempting to ‘find that bargain’. This can be seen by the commitments made to projects with no additional funding allocated (e.g., asking a Department to find the funding from existing operating budgets – that is, ‘make your money go further’) and this is now the case for key sector projects like peer workers and the Tasmanian Drug Strategy. After many years working in government, it is my experience that this approach generally results in departments figuratively looking under couch cushions in the hope that they can find some spare change.
We can also see it happening when funding proposals are rejected because a Department has advised that they will save money by using an existing program or project to provide the same outcome (that is, ‘buy two for the price of one’). We have seen this happen with the unilateral decision to announce that alcohol and other drug data would be collected through an existing program designed for mental health services.
Now I’m not begrudging the government for trying to distribute funding in an efficient and effective manner. This is expected, and the pressures of a stressed health system continue to require the Government to find opportunities to streamline services and invest money wisely. The government is and should be looking for those funding ‘bargains’ everywhere in the budget.
But it is my growing concern that the alcohol, tobacco and other drug sector continues to be a sector where the bargains are continually being sought. This brings into question the level of priority that the Tasmanian Government is placing on the issue of drug use in our community given the size of the issue. It also jeopardises our sector’s ability to invest in the specialist services and programs required, putting at risk the quality and success of these services.
As we head into the next few months, these thoughts will continue be top of mind and we will continue to keep raising these observations and concerns with the aim of seeking increased collaboration on what decisions are being made, and at all times protecting the speciality that underpins the success of our community-managed alcohol, tobacco and other drug services and programs.
CEOWhen you first meet Alison, you will no doubt observe her as someone with a quiet demeanour and calm confidence. But hiding behind the soft voice, and measured comments is a fierce change-maker who is a deep thinker of thoughts and feeler of feelings – these are elements of Alison you will enjoy if you are lucky enough to get to know her more. Alison’s natural curiosity and thoughtful consideration lead to astute insights, which she communicates with great care and compassion.Read more✖
When you first meet Alison, you will no doubt observe her as someone with a quiet demeanour and calm confidence. But hiding behind the soft voice, and measured comments is a fierce change-maker who is a deep thinker of thoughts and feeler of feelings – these are elements of Alison you will enjoy if you are lucky enough to get to know her more. Alison’s natural curiosity and thoughtful consideration lead to astute insights, which she communicates with great care and compassion. Alison has had a long career in the State Government and Community Sector in Tasmania, leading and learning at every level. She is a hard worker and creative problem-solver, with fairness and equality for all Tasmanians always at the front of her mind. Despite her many career and academic achievements, Alison is just about as ‘real’ as CEOs get. Fondly referring to herself as ‘sophisticated ocker’, Alison’s passion for sport, her endless collection of Christmas jumpers, and a good laugh means fun is never far away. In the future, Alison hopes to see strong and meaningful engagement with community by all levels of government as the status-quo. She also hopes to see compassion and empathy seen as equally strong and impactful leadership traits as aggression and brute force are today – and she plans to continue to lead by example in this way. Career highlights:
- CEO of ATDC and before that, CEO of Volunteering Tasmania
- Formal recognition for raising professionalism and showing leadership in the Volunteering, Sport and Recreation, and Alcohol and Other Drugs sectors
- Acceptance into the Social Impact Leadership Australia Program
- Completing her Bachelor of Commerce with Honours (Marketing and Entrepreneurship)