The Coalition Government is committed to a new strategy for the way government, health and community services, businesses, families, and communities work together to address alcohol and drug related harms in Victoria, Minister for Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge said today.
Announcing the Expert Advisory Group which will inform the development of the whole of government Victorian Alcohol and Drugs strategy, Ms Wooldridge said the appointment of the 17-member expert taskforce, chaired by Professor Richard Larkins is an important step forward.
"The last whole-of-government reform to alcohol and other drugs (AOD) policy was in 1996 under the Kennett Government's Turning the Tide strategy," Ms Wooldridge said.
In contrast, Labor's AOD policies were silo-driven, lacked vision and failed to adequately respond to the growing harms of alcohol and drug abuse in our communities.
"The Coalition Government is committed to engaging and learning from those involved in all sectors that are impacted by alcohol and drug issues, such as treatment and prevention, liquor licensing and regulation, education and law enforcement," Ms Wooldridge said.
"We are working across all sectors, government departments and agencies to ensure we develop a comprehensive whole of government approach to the way we respond to alcohol and drug abuse and dependency.
"Earlier this year, the Victorian Auditor-General revealed that Labor had not acted on recommendations from 31 previous reviews of the AOD sector since 1999," Ms Wooldridge said.
The Coalition Government has today launched the new website for consultation on the strategy and opened public submissions from individuals and organisations. The website provides access to a range of AOD reports, including the 31 identified by the Auditor General, most of which were never made public by Labor.
Today the government is also releasing the latest data looking at patterns of drug use and related harm in Victoria.
The Victorian Drug Statistics Handbook 2008-2009 reveals rising levels of alcohol and drug fuelled violence, ambulance call-outs and hospital admissions, as well as emerging trends such as a growing misuse of prescription medications.
The Coalition Government's whole of government strategy will focus on decreasing the current rates of alcohol and other drug abuse in Victoria, reducing the amount of harm that alcohol and drug abuse causes in the community and increasing access to treatment options so that people with an alcohol or drug problem can get help when they need it.
"The Coalition Government is focused on reducing the harm caused by alcohol and drugs to benefit all individuals, families, businesses and the community as a whole," Ms Wooldridge said.
More information about the whole of government Victorian Alcohol and Drug Strategy, including details about how to make a submission are available on www.health.vic.gov.au/aod/strategy
Members of the Expert Advisory Group on Alcohol and Other Drugs are attached.