Rhonda Parker

Rhonda Parker


    More than $91 million will be spent on WA's second Together Against Drugs Strategy

    18/11/1999 8:35 AM


    More than $91 million will be spent in Western Australia on implementing the second Together Against Drugs Strategy 1999-2001 released by the Minister Responsible for WA Drug Abuse Strategy, Rhonda Parker, today.

    Mrs Parker said that State Government’s annual funding for drug related programs had increased by 52 per cent since the release of the first action plan in 1997. The funding increased from $27 million in 1996/97 to more than $41 million in 1999/2000.

    “The Federal Government has also made a substantial financial commitment, in particular to the increased funding of treatment services under the national diversion strategy,” she said.

    “The unprecedented levels of funding combined with our efforts to tackle drug abuse through action at every level in Government- and in the community- demonstrates the State Government’s strong commitment to addressing the problems of drug abuse as a high priority.

    “The strategy builds on the strong and established foundations of the first action plan 1997-1999 and the findings of the Premier’s Taskforce in 1995.

    “Each element of the strategy – education, health and community support services, law enforcement, community action – is an essential part of the whole so that drug abuse can be tackled at every level in the community.

    “The strategy complements the Government’s Safer WA initiative and we will be relentless in our efforts to support individuals, families and communities working Together Against Drugs,” Mrs Parker said.

    These included new developments, as well as the strengthening and expansion of established strategies. The plan also sets out the medium term strategic direction for each area of activity.

    The Minister said that the 1999-2001 action plan involved over 100 specific initiatives.

    Some of the key developments for the action plan included:
    • a comprehensive range of diversion strategies to compel offenders into treatment, including police diversion, and the establishment of a Drug Court;
    • a feasibility study and broad community consultation on a model of intensive support and family or Government initiated referral of young people at extreme risk of self harm into compulsory treatment;
    • a substantial legislative program covering penalties, dealing with intoxication and confiscation of proceeds of crime;
    • increased support for parents through a series of initiatives under the banner Working in Partnership with Parents;
    • a State-wide school drug counselling project;
    • increased drug treatment support for general practitioners and the establishment of a specialist alcohol drug medical position at Royal Perth Hospital;
    • expansion of the availability of new pharmacotherapies - naltrexone and buprenorphine - for heroin dependence;
    • the first public awareness campaign directed at preventing road trauma caused by illicit drugs;
    • a Western Australian research program which will include the effect of cannabis and other drugs in suicide and on road safety; and -
    • initiatives tackling each of the specific legal and illicit drugs.

    Mrs Parker said drug abuse continued to be an international problem and Western Australia was no exception.

    “In particular, the continuing increase in world production of illicit drugs poses a greater challenge with each year,” she said.

    “The State Government remains firm in its resolve to oppose drug abuse and maintain our primary emphasis on strategies to reduce demand for and the supply of drugs.

    “The second principle of our approach, harm reduction, is also necessary as it recognises the need for carefully targeted strategies to reduce the risks and harm to those continuing to use drugs and to the wider community, while taking care that such strategies do not encourage or normalise drug abuse.”

    Mrs Parker said the community was rightly concerned about drugs and the Coalition Government was committed to maintaining and broadening its concerted and comprehensive strategy against drug abuse through the Together Against Drugs action plan for the next two years.

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    The Together Against Drugs strategy follows the Premier’s Task Force on Drug Abuse and began in June 1997 with a comprehensive two year action plan tackling the abuse of legal and illicit drugs in Western Australia.

    The strategy developed essential programs including education to prevent drug abuse in schools, for parents, the general public and for drug users themselves, expanded health and community support services throughout the State, law enforcement targeted at both high level and street dealing of drugs as well as alcohol abuse, and provided substantial support for the broad community to take action in towns and suburbs.

    Development of the latest action plan involved widespread consultation with all relevant Government agencies, non-Government organisations, professional associations and community groups that are partners in the strategy.

    The development of the action plan has been co-ordinated by the Western Australian Ministerial Council on Drug Abuse Strategy, chaired by the Minister responsible for WA Drug Abuse Strategy and including the Ministers for Health, Police, Justice, Education, Aboriginal Affairs and Youth.