Review of the drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services sector

Date Commenced:
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters:

Commonwealth Department of Health / Contract Research

image - Review Of Treatment Sector Square
Project Members
image - 1314146187 Chalmers Jenny 06
Senior Research Fellow
Ph 02 9385 0189
image - Lynda Berends Square
Senior Research Fellow
Ph 02 9385 0333
image - Philip Hull Square
Research Officer
Ph 02 8936 1105
image - 1314149988 Gomez Maria 06
Senior Research Officer
Ph 02 8936 1138
image - 1314150565 Kari Lancaster 05
Senior Research Officer
Ph 02 9385 0476
Project Main Description

This project will clarify Australian drug and alcohol treatment funding; current and future service needs; the gap between met and unmet demand; and planning and funding processes for the future.

This project will deliver:

  1. a shared understanding of current drug and alcohol treatment funding;
  2. a set of planned and coordinated funding processes for future Commonwealth AOD funding rounds; and
  3. documentation to inform future Commonwealth funding processes which articulate with state/territory approaches and respond to the needs of individuals, families and their communities.

*Full details for this project can be found on the DETAILED PROJECT PAGE.


The former Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler MP, requested that the Department of Health (formerly Department of Health and Ageing) undertake a review of the drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services sector following the Substance Misuse Service Delivery Grants Fund, and Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program funding rounds that were finalised in early 2012. The department conducted an open tender process to engage a consultant to undertake the review, with a team from the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) at the University of New South Wales, headed by Professor Alison Ritter, being the successful tenderer.


The Review aims to achieve:

  • clarity as to the range of services currently funded by governments, their distribution and the demographic groups targeted by these services;
  • a common understanding amongst governments and the sector of current and future service needs and where there may be service gaps, either in relation to service type, geographic area and/or demographic groups;
  • clarity as to the type and timing of drug and alcohol funding activities undertaken by governments; and
  • the development of a resource/tools to help focus future government funding activities to ensure existing levels of resources (and any growth funding) are used as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver quality, sustainable drug and alcohol services that respond to the needs of individuals, families and communities
Design and Method

Primary data collection will use a rapid assessment methodology. This is a highly consultative and engaged approach to obtaining and analysing large amounts of data (both quantitative and qualitative) over a relatively brief period of time. Each state/territory health department and NGO AOD peak bodies across the jurisdictions will participate in the rapid assessments. The research team will source both quantitative and qualitative data, analyse records held, discuss and review data with the stakeholder providing the data, and seek out the perspectives of the various stakeholders, and their interpretations of the data.

The rapid assessment approach provides for wide consultation as the core team is in situ with stakeholders, collecting and analysing, discussing and reviewing data as it comes to hand. Stakeholders will be contacted during the rapid assessments, including the local consumer representative bodies. Through the work with the peaks we will engage service providers. Likewise during the rapid assessments with government, key government service providers will be engaged.

In addition to documenting service types and funding sources, we will document the types of treatment provided and who receives them. We refer to this as ‘met demand’. This is best completed by way of secondary analysis of treatment data. The datasets we are using include: the AODTS- NMDS, NOPSAD, the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), and Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health data (BEACH)

We will conduct a gap analysis (difference between met and unmet demand) using the DA-CCP model (NSW Ministry of Health). The DA-CCP national planning model will be invaluable in making some estimates of the unmet demand for treatment across the five drug types covered by DA-CCP (alcohol, opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines and cannabis).

Aboriginal services are included within the review scope. The National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University is undertaking this work.  They will be collecting and analysing data from stakeholders across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The data will cover: identification of gaps in current service provision; areas of unmet need; priority groups; service planning processes; and funding models/funding arrangements and contracting issues. Strengths, weaknesses and challenges across these areas will be covered.  Prof Dennis Gray is leading this work.

The final report will be an analysis across all the components drawing on:

  • the working papers;
  • the Review Advisory Committee input;
  • consultations throughout with governments and peak bodies, including consumer representatives; and,
  • our further analytic work after all data collection is complete.

The final report will be a confidential report delivered to DoHA. Its release will be determined by DoHA.


Working papers will be prepared throughout the course of the project, enabling stakeholder input. These can be found on the DETAILED PROJECT PAGE.


A final report for review and acceptance by the Commonwealth Department of Health is due in mid 2014.


The review provides an opportunity to detail what is occurring and establish principles for future planning, useful for all levels of government, service providers and, ultimately, the broader community.

Project Supporters

Commonwealth Department of Health / Contract Research

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