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Government plunges drug and alcohol treatment organisations into funding uncertainty



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CATHERINE KING MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

GOVERNMENT PLUNGES DRUG AND ALCOHOL TREATMENT ORGANISATIONS INTO FUNDING UNCERTAINTY

The Turnbull Government has today plunged around 140 organisations at the frontline of treating serious drug and alcohol problems into funding uncertainty.

With only four months left of funding remaining, the Government has confirmed it is splitting the current funding administered under the Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program and the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund between the Primary Health Networks and the Department of Health.

The Government’s failure to provide any certainty to the more than 140 organisations funded under these programs is appalling, especially when industrial processes in some drug and alcohol services will be triggered at the end of this month.

There is no certainty that existing services will be funded beyond June.

Only two days ago, the Department of Health confirmed this at Senate Estimates:

SENATOR WATT: Can you guarantee that every organisation currently receiving funding through these two funds will continue to receive that next financial year? DEPARTMENTAL OFFICIAL: That’s a matter for Government. SENATOR WATT: So it’s possible there will be some organisations that are currently funded through who will not have their funding renewed at the end of the year? DEPARTMENTAL OFFICIAL: It’s a decision for Government to take.

The Minister needs to guarantee that every organisation currently receiving funding under these programs will continue to receive every dollar of that funding next financial year.

They haven’t even informed services of the systemic change - “consulting with the sector” is not issuing a press release.

Announcing such a drastic change to the way these services are funded only four months out is a recipe for chaos the sector doesn't need.

These services can’t wait until July for the Government to get their act together - some only have weeks before industrial process are triggered.

Organisations are currently making staffing decisions and are weighing up if they can continue to support their communities in the wake of crippling funding uncertainty from this Government.

You only have to look at the fact that fifteen months after the National Ice Taskforce money was announced it has barely trickled through to any services to see why this news is so concerning.

If the Minister doesn't stand up and provide assurances to all 140 organisations today, then everything else is empty words.

State/ Territory

Number of organisations with funding expiring on June 30

Victoria 44

NSW 42

Qld 19

SA 13

Tas 5

WA 11

NT 8

ACT 6

TOTAL 148

FRIDAY, 3 MARCH 2017 MEDIA CONTACT: JOANNE CLEARY 0428 816 751