A proposed decision by the Federal Government to slash funding to much needed Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is putting their health at risk.
It is alleged Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion will no longer be funding AOD support programs across Australia after 30 June 2018, including those delivered by QAIHC Member—Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).
Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council Chairperson, Mr Kieran Chilcott said the notification, which came without any consultation, will have significant impacts on the health sector.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will now turn to our already overburdened public health system, or seek no help at all,” Mr Chilcott said.
“A few months ago we had Minister Ken Wyatt praising the successful work of IUIH, now his colleague Minister Scullion is proposing to slash their funding. It doesn’t make sense,” Mr Chilcott said.
“This a disappointing outcome, not only for our Members and all the people who rely on their AOD services, but the entire Queensland community.
QAIHC currently receives funding under the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Safety and Wellbeing Programme which aims to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy similar levels of physical, social and emotional wellbeing enjoyed by other Australians by fostering their ability to engage in education, employment and other opportunities.
This funding has been in place for over a decade and yet QAIHC has received no formal advice regarding any decision on the continuation of AOD funding.
QAIHC Chief Executive Officer, Neil Willmett said QAIHC has provided ongoing advice, support and targeted assistance to enhance the operational performance of Community Controlled AOD Services in Queensland and the Queensland Indigenous Substance Misuse Council (QISMC).
“This service support funding improves outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities dealing with substance misuse,” Mr Willmett said.
“If the decision goes ahead it will be a devastating blow and effectively erases a decade of work that has been done by QAIHC to support and build the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AOD service providers and QISMC.”
Mr Willmett expressed his disappointment at the lack of understanding of the service support work QAIHC delivers and encourages the government to reconsider any proposed changes.