SA Aboriginal drug rehabilitation service under threat after funding cuts

Neelima Choahan

5/06/2018 4:00:53 PM

The Federal Government will no longer provide the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council the $700,000 a year it needs to operate. Chief Executive Scott Wilson told newsGP the cuts will force the closure of all services.

Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council Chief Executive Scott Wilson says cuts to their funding will deeply affect the fight against drugs in the SA Aboriginal community.
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council Chief Executive Scott Wilson says cuts to their funding will deeply affect the fight against drugs in the SA Aboriginal community.

A South Australian Aboriginal drug rehabilitation centre helping people fight substance abuse, including use of ice and heroin, may have to close its doors after Federal Government funding cuts, its Chief Executive says.
The Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (ADAC) receives $4.5 million a year to run a residential rehabilitation centre and two day centres in the rural SA towns of Port Augusta and Ceduna. They also have a mobile treatment service and diversion programs.
But Chief Executive Scott Wilson said they were told last week that after 1 January 2019 they will no longer receive the annual funding of $700,000 needed to run the parent body.  
The residential rehabilitation and day centres have been funded until 2020, but Mr Wilson told newsGP they cannot legally operate the three if ADAC, which administers the services, including payroll and hiring staff, is shut down.
‘ADAC runs a wide range of services across the state, including doing all the payroll and purchasing. I have absolutely no idea how staff would get paid without us,’ Mr Wilson said.
‘It’s ADAC who is the incorporated body that the funding agreements are with, and if you are only funding us for six months we can’t run the rehab or the day centre.
‘It’s like baking a cake without flour.’
Mr Wilson said 57 employees, including nurses and counsellors, will lose their jobs due to the cuts.
‘We are very deflated and shocked,’ he said.
‘We have been out there for 25 years, we have done some great work over that time … and [the Government] has sort of said, “We are only going to give you money for six months. Go away”.’
ADAC was formed in 1993 as a South Australian community response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. 
Mr Wilson said the day centre client contacts have climbed from 900 a year to 20,000 per year. Another 10,000 people use other services.
‘People come in every day. They will be coming out of sobering-up shelters … we provide breakfast, they can have a shower, wash their clothes, we have a paramedic on site,’ he said.
‘With the residential rehabilitation centre, in two years we have had 350 referrals and we take Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal folk into the rehab.
‘We will have to stop taking clients into the 12-week residential rehabilitation centre from September.’
Mr Wilson said the minor savings in Federal money will lead to massive drug and alcohol problems for the South Australian Aboriginal community.
‘We estimate that something like 30% of the Aboriginal community has had some impact or is currently caught in drug and alcohol … and there just aren’t the services available,’ he said.
‘We run the only residential rehabilitation service for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people outside of Adelaide.’
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion was approached for comment.

aboriginal-drug-and-alcohol-council minister-for-indigenous-affairs nigel-scullion


Login to comment