Michelle Lensink

Sandas Member Survey

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question on the SANDAS Member Survey.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have received a copy of the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services Member Survey of 2007 in which a number of particular challenges are outlined. Those include—no surprise—the number one issue of funding, recruitment and retention of staff, bonus reporting requirements and bringing services back inside government. I will refer to some of the quotes from the survey which highlight the issues. Under ‘Funding’, the survey states:

Some members have reported cuts in funding in the face of increased demands.

Indeed, there is a comment further on in the document as follows:

Agencies were further implicated financially by ‘government attempts to reclaim unused moneys’ and by the state government’s lack of financial commitment over time.

The issue of compliance is referred to under the tender process, with ‘the tender process becoming excessive’. One agency described it as being at ‘ridiculous levels’. Can the minister advise which agencies it has tried to pinch money from, and how much? Can she identify which services, in particular counselling services which used to be provided by non-government organisations, the government has taken back into the government sector?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): The South Australian government certainly recognises the very important contribution of the NGO sector not only to drug and alcohol services but to a wide range of services throughout South Australia. It plays a very vital part in service delivery in our community.

Through our Department of Health’s Drug and Alcohol Services program and Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA), the government will provide $4.642 million, plus CPI increases, in the 2007-08 financial year to non-government alcohol and drug sector organisations providing services here in South Australia. I have been advised that this does, in fact, maintain the level of total state funding to non-government drug and alcohol services; it is actually maintaining the past funding plus CPI to be added.

The government has provided funding of $206 000 over three years for the establishment of a non-government peak body known as the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS); and, in providing funding to that organisation specifically, we are acknowledging the need to provide enhanced support for this important sector and to have a peak body to assist in the organisation and to enable better liaison and communication within the sector. I am delighted at the progress that has been made in relation to that.

That deals with the overall funding question. The advice I have received is that there have been no funding cuts to drug and alcohol services—in fact, there has been an increase with it being adjusted to CPI. In relation to any specific programs, I would need to seek further advice.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: This may seem like a stupid question, but is the minister indicating that she will take on notice the specific questions outlined at the end of my question and bring back a response?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I am happy to do that.

 

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