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$66 million federal funding boost for drug treatment organisations serving Indigenous communities

Giovanni Torre -

The federal government announced on Saturday that it is providing a $66 million funding boost to more than 65 Alcohol and Other Drugs treatment organisations across the country supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The investment, part of the government's Strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Services Initiative, is the first time in a decade that the majority of operating services have received a funding increase.

In a statement, the government said the funding boost follows "extensive national consultations" with First Nations AOD treatment stakeholders, and is part of the government's "commitment to Closing the Gap".

The funding will support a range of initiatives including boosting service delivery and data and reporting capabilities and training and development for staff.

The 2021-22 Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report shows that Indigenous people accounted for 18 per cent of people receiving treatment or support for their own - or someone else's - alcohol or other drug use.

The federal government said it will continue working in partnership with organisations and the AOD sector, with the funding boost backing "more community-led solutions to deliver better outcomes for First Nations people".

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said that the services had suffered "a decade of neglect" under the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments.

"I'm so pleased to see this funding being delivered to frontline Alcohol and Other Drugs treatment services," she said.

"These are vital services that provide critical, life-changing support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Australians, their families and communities."

The Glen Centre CEO, Alex Lee, said the grant will help the New South Wales-based organisation "to continue to deliver culturally-safe residential care to support First Nations people heal from harmful substance use and empower them to lead safe and healthy lives".

"The Commonwealth's grant will be invested in strengthening our ability to evaluate the program's success to see where we can improve," he said.

"This will benefit not only our future clients, but other alcohol and other drug treatment services, as we will be sharing that information with the sector, giving First Nations peoples – and other Australians – the best chance of recovery."

Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation CEO James Gibson said that "for too long" in the organisation's remote East Kimberley location, they have "been limited by slow, unreliable and often non-existent internet".

"This funding will be used to secure high speed internet giving our staff access to cutting edge, modern training resources that deliver better outcomes for the people and communities they serve," he said.

"This will give our staff the tools, resources and support they need to deliver lasting change for those seeking a healthier life."

Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the delivery of these projects and funding will "go a long way to ensuring families and communities across Australia are supported and cared for through difficult times".

"The Albanese Government's investment in these life changing services will ensure more Indigenous Australians can achieve their full potential," she said.

"This significant boost will support trusted organisations and clinicians to provide quality Alcohol and Other Drugs treatments on the ground."

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