As Winter approaches, discussions surrounding the homelessness crisis across Tasmania are intensifying with many individuals and families unable to find secure accommodation.
There is much to be done, and it is assuring to see our community and government leaders attempting to put their differences aside to focus providing immediate relief and identifying long-term sustainable solutions. Similarly, it is encouraging to see similar discussions starting to occur in response to the issues within our hospitals and emergency departments.
Collaborative discussions, accompanied by good-will and a strong appetite for action are vital ingredients to designing and delivering social and health strategies that work.
With discussions underway, I am aware that there are many lamenting that it had to get to this point. That is, why do we have to wait until something reaches crisis before we get stuck in and be agents of change. Why is it that it takes stories of despair, loss and severe risk of harm for action to occur.
This issue, which I refer to ‘proof of crisis’ is an issue that I can see seeping into the alcohol, tobacco and other drugs sector. Proof of crisis occurs when government requires evidence of ‘negative impact’ and the media put pressure on our alcohol and other drug services to talk about the epidemics, and the stories of woe and ‘broken people’. The pressure to provide examples of this nature, can be counter-productive and contribute to the negative stereotypes and stigma associated with seeking support for problematic drug use.
There is absolutely no denying that our sector is one of many Tasmanian community services that need critical intervention to ensure that people can access information and support when, and where they need it . It is also true that there are many Tasmanians experiencing a high degree of harm and discrimination due to their problematic drug use, and the team at the ATDC will continue to advocate strongly to ensure that these challenges and issues are visible and understood.
In doing so, we will also be working hard to showcase the stories of success, strength and recovery that the hundreds of health professionals in our sector are helping thousands of Tasmanians to achieve every year.
Because in addition to collaboration, good-will and a strong appetite for action, rising to any challenge also requires a healthy dose of compassion – something our sector has in spades.
Chief Executive Officer