Australia’s stellar performance at the cricket and record heatwaves were the soundtrack of this year’s summer. But it was the tragic death of Daniel Christie and drug- and alcohol-induced violence that dominated the headlines.
Leaders and the community condemned coward punching, the tabloids ran campaigns, doctors and nurses called for action and the AMA demanded a national summit.
The response was angry and loud, triggered by the senseless end of the life of a young man minding his own business while out with friends on New Year’s Eve.
The estimated cost of harm of drug- and alcohol-induced violence is $50 billion. But no economic indicator can measure the psychological, permanent and intergenerational damage experienced by the victims and their families.
On 10 January, the Prime Minister said “We need to tackle this issue in a comprehensive and considered way.”
For nearly 50 years, the Alcohol and Other Drug Council of Australia and its former incarnations has been doing just that. As the peak body for organisations working to minimise drug and alcohol harm, ADCA has led the way in medical and community education and research.
Inexplicably, late last year, the Abbott Government announced it would to cut ADCA’s funding, effective immediately.
ADCA’s annual budget was around $1.5 million, a small investment against the estimated $15 million spent on just one Australian living with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder over their lifetime.
Past and incumbent ADCA presidents have written an open letter to the Prime Minister seeking a meeting with the Minister or Assistant Minister to plead their case, with no luck. Academics, medical organisations and peak bodies have also called on the Government to see sense and maintain funding for ADCA, but their calls went unanswered.
On 28 February this year, after nearly 50 years of providing frank and fearless advice to government and policy makers, ADCA closed its doors for good.
Given ADCA’s contribution to drug and alcohol awareness and education for nearly half a century, you’d think it was worthy of more respect, particularly from a Prime Minister so “appalled” by the violence drug and alcohol use can induce.
Sign the petition to restore ADCA funding.