THE NATIONALS’ Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, is urging regional health providers to apply for funding under the Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) program to help combat the scourge of the drug ice, other illicit substances and alcohol abuse.
Mr McCormack said applications are now open for the third round of the program, which helps to bring the community together to develop local plans and activities to prevent and reduce the harm being caused by drugs and alcohol in their regions.
“LDAT members could include representatives from local councils, schools, police, youth services, primary health services and treatment services, community groups and non-government organisations,” Mr McCormack said.
“Any organisation with an interest in tackling drug and alcohol issues in their community is encouraged to apply.”
Mr McCormack said he was fully aware of the damage being done to Riverina and Central West families by drug and alcohol abuse and he was determined to work with all relevant organisations to help fight these damaging addictions.
“People from all walks of life have shared with me their heart-breaking stories of loved ones caught in drug and alcohol abuse,” Mr McCormack said.
“We need to tackle this problem on a number of levels and Drug Action Teams are an important part of the fight.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Local Drug Action Teams program is a key measure within the Turnbull Government’s $298 million National Ice Action Strategy to combat illicit drug and alcohol use.
“The National Ice Taskforce recognised that taking action at the local level and building community engagement and capacity is vital to reducing the harms that alcohol and other drugs have on individuals, families and communities,” Mr Hunt said.
Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, welcomed the latest round of LDATs acknowledging that regional communities were often the hardest hit when it comes to epidemics such as ice addiction.
“Communities are working hard to establish and implement preventive and support services and this latest round of LDATs are assisting communities further,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Government is encouraging regional health care providers to apply to become an LDAT.”
Mr McCormack said the Alcohol and Drug Foundation would help new LDATs to develop and implement action plans targeted to their local needs.
“There are now 80 LDATs across Australia, including one at Gundagai, representing more than 300 partnerships, but many more communities can benefit from this program,” Mr McCormack said.
“Successful applicants will initially receive $10,000 to help them to develop a local action plan. Once the plan is finalised, LDATs can apply to receive up to an additional $30,000 in their first year (and then $40,000 a year) to support delivery of local activities.”
Examples of activities that an LDAT might deliver in communities include:
• raising awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine (also known as ‘ice’) and encouraging users to seek help;
• working with vulnerable people to improve their current situation through education or employment services;
• providing support and information to parents and carers to enable them to talk about alcohol and other drug issues with their children; and
• developing local solutions for reducing violence and other harm related to alcohol and other drugs in public places.
The Turnbull Government is committed to combating the scourge of ice and we encourage more organisations to apply to join the LDAT program, to drive change at a local level.
Applications for round three of the LDAT program close February 19. There will be further opportunities to be part of the program later this year and in 2019.
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Ken Grimson