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11 Dec. 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Call for NT Government to commence promised evaluation of COMMIT program

11 December 2020

The Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT) is the peak body for non-government Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) treatment services in the Northern Territory (NT).

We represent over 20 organisations providing drug and alcohol treatment and support to families and clients throughout the NT.

On 31 December 2020 the COMMIT Program, funded by the Department of Attorney-General and Justice, was due to cease. Cessation of this funding would result in a significant reduction in the capacity of the sector to provide support services. These reductions would place further stress on a sector that is already operating beyond capacity with a previous existing estimated shortfall in demand for services of 15%.

In response to ongoing advocacy by AADANT and other key proponents of the program, it has been confirmed that funding to organisations delivering the COMMIT program has been extended until 31st March 2021. The funding will be provided by the Department of Attorney-General and Justice.

While this is welcome news that provides a brief reprieve from funding cuts for the NT AOD sector, there is still much work to do to ensure this funding is continued past 31st March 2021. AADANT is calling for a commitment from the Department of Attorney-General and Justice to undertake an independent evaluation of the COMMIT program in this period and to continue support for the provision of dedicated AOD treatment options for Department of Corrections’ clients into the future.

The NT has made significant gains in reducing harms related to AOD use over the last few years following implementation of measures recommended through the Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review (Riley Review). Effective management of AOD issues requires a holistic, harm minimisation response that encompasses the elements of supply reduction, harm reduction and demand reduction. To date, there has been considerable emphasis on the implementation of supply reduction measures such as the Banned Drinkers Register, Minimum Unit Price and use of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors.

A failure to maintain and grow the treatment sector as part of a comprehensive model will greatly undermine the effectiveness and purpose of the introduced supply reduction measures and will risk a reversal of the gains made to date.

AADANT is once again calling on the NT Government to complete the promised evaluation for the COMMIT program and ensure the AOD treatment sector is sufficiently resourced to bolster the effectiveness of a comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment sector.

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Media Contact

Peter Burnheim
Executive Officer, AADANT
P.         8943 0608
M.        0429 901 370