Adelaide September 2008
2008 September Communique
In 2003 the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) - which is the principal advisory body to government on drug and alcohol issues and the Federal Government recognized a need for specific and independent advice on Indigenous alcohol and other drugs issues across Australia and the most appropriate and effective approaches to address them.
The National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC) was established by the ANCD as part of its commitment to provide high level advice to government. NIDAC comprises members from non-government and government organisations with specialist expertise and knowledge who provide advice to government on ways to address drug and alcohol misuse amongst Indigenous Australians.
NIDAC also gains valuable feedback from people working to address Indigenous drug and alcohol across Australia.
At its September 2008 meeting in Adelaide, South Australia, NIDAC members discussed the following:
Opal unleaded fuel storage in the NT
Options for bulk storage facilities for Opal fuel in Darwin are being investigated. These facilities will enable the Department of Health and Ageing to expand the availability of Opal fuel in the Top End of Australia. In the interim it is anticipated that Opal fuel will be made available in Nhulunbuy through other arrangements in the near future.
Worker issues in addressing Indigenous alcohol and other drug misuse
NIDAC continues to push for greater support and training for workers addressing Indigenous alcohol and other drug misuse. This includes specific training for addressing tobacco use and comorbidity issues. Greater support is needed to prevent worker burnout, an issue also recently highlighted at the July NSW Alcohol and Drug Symposium in Tamworth.
The National Centre for Education, Training and Addiction (NCETA) has been conducting an Indigenous health worker wellbeing study and will be providing an update on the project at the next NIDAC meeting.
NIDAC encourages Indigenous workers and organisations working in this area to place your views relevant to worker wellbeing in the alcohol and other drugs field, from your perspective as an Indigenous worker, or a non-Indigenous worker who has significant contact with Indigenous clients. To participate in this confidential NCETA questionnaire www.surveymonkey.com
Indigenous tobacco smoking and harm
NIDAC is concerned that while smoking rates have decreased slightly for the total Australian population there has been no significant change for Indigenous Australians for the past 16 years. Indigenous Australians are nearly three times as likely as the non-Indigenous population to be daily smokers with over half of the adult Indigenous population (50%) being current daily smokers. NIDAC acknowledged that more research into effective programs to reduce smoking by Indigenous people is needed.
In a bid to address this growing concern, NIDAC will be providing advice into the development of the National Indigenous Tobacco Policy at the Indigenous Tobacco Control Policy Workshop 23 -24 Oct 2008 Melbourne.
Volumetric tax on alcohol
Concern was raised that the introduction of a uniform volumetric tax on alcohol may mean that some products (such as spirits) could become cheaper thus encouraging a switch to these beverages. NIDAC is supportive of a tailored volumetric tax for alcohol products and incentives for low alcohol based drinks. An alcohol position paper developed by NIDAC to address Indigenous alcohol misuse is available on the NIDAC website. www.nidac.org.au
Impact of Kava use
Following up from concerns raised at the last community consultation forum in Darwin and ongoing feedback, the social and economic impact of Kava misuse on Indigenous families remains a priority for NIDAC. NIDAC will continue to seek an evaluation of the impact of the amended Kava legislation introduced in 2007. NIDAC has also recognised the need for more research that looks at the health and socio-economic impact on families as a result of kava use, and related injury.
Over-representation of Indigenous Australians in correctional systems
NIDAC is finalising a position paper on the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in correctional systems and their health, which will provide key short term and long term recommendations to address this unacceptable situation.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and associated disorders caused by drinking during pregnancy.
NIDAC believes that if Indigenous parents and children receive the right type of intervention at the right time using an accurate screening tool, families can be guided safely through pregnancy. There is also a need to target those children already affected so they may receive the correct treatment which will allow a better chance in life. NIDAC is pleased that the Australian Government is addressing this concern and will continue to support current initiatives by the Department of Health and Ageing and the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in this area.
A new NIDAC website can now be accessed through www.nidac.org.au. Information on Indigenous specific alcohol and other drug issues, NIDAC priorities and activities, community consultation and links to other relevant sites are available.
NIDAC congratulates the efforts by the Bourke indigenous community leaders and the Bourke Alcohol Working Group to address alcohol and other drug use at a recent forum held July 23. About 80 representatives from the community, government agencies, non-government organisations, health professions, police and businesses were brought together to discuss the issues and how they can be addressed. A range of radical solutions to alcohol abuse and the violence it causes, which will form the basis of a five-year alcohol management plan.
More information at NIDAC
or contact the NIDAC Secretariat (02) 6166 9600