There have been a series of administrative and legislative changes which sought to reform the scope and nature of the the role of the public provision of treatment services in Western Australia (WA) for problematic users of alcohol, as well as other drugs, over the past five decades, since the mid 1970s.
As these reforms changed the nomenclature, operation and structure of relevant departments and modes of service delivery over the period, a description of details of these changes is included. Understanding these changes also assists in identifying the availability of publicly accessible official information, statistical data and indicators of alcohol and other drug use, which government agencies oversee and control.
An important, but possibly not well understood consequence of these changes in administrative arrangements, means that detailed data about utilisation of services, developments in service delivery, treatment policies and other key measures, are dispersed as they are located in disparate departmental annual reports.
It can be even more difficult to describe the departmental and organisational arrangements which existed over the preceding period from 1900 up to the mid 1970s. One characteristic of earlier reporting was an ethos of disclosure of information through annual reports. This resulted in the public dissemination of a detailed range of information appended to annual reports, which has been discontinued and excluded from more annual reports.
A standard feature of annual reports of all departments until the 1960s at least, was the inclusion of detailed information which provide can provide a broad understanding of a range of matters such as admission to facilities, information about changes in organisational arrangements, developments in services and policies and renaming of departments.
Alcohol and Drug Authority (1975 – mid 1990s)
The Alcohol and Drug Authority (ADA) was established as separate statutory body by the Alcohol and Drug Authority Act 1974, had its own board, reported directly to the Minister for Health and operated as a separate entity, not as a division within the Health Department of WA.
It commenced operation in November 1974 and ceased to operate as a separate entity when the Drug and Alcohol Office was absorbed into the Mental Health Commission (MHC) in June 2015. The Alcohol and Drug Authority Act 1974 was renamed the Alcohol and Other Drugs Act 1974 in February 2015.
WA Drug Abuse Strategy Office (mid 1990s – 2002)
The WA Drug Abuse Strategy Office (WADASO) operated as a unit within the Premier’s Department and assumed a number of key roles previously undertaken by the ADA, until they were transferred to the Drug and Alcohol Office (DAO) in 2002.
This administrative arrangement devolved almost all publicly operated services previously managed by the ADA, except for its East Perth based detoxification unit, Next Step Drug and Alcohol Services (Next Step).
In June 1998 WADASO was transferred to a new Minister Responsible for Drug Strategy. As this Minister was concurrently the Minister for Family and Children’s Service (FCS), WADASO was administered as part of FCS portfolio.
Department of Health – Mental Health Division (1997 – 2002)
In 1997 the Court Liberal government created the State Health Purchasing Authority (SHPA), which operated as a sub-agency within the Department of Health (DOH), to reflect a perception that purchasing of services was separate from the provision of a wide range of health-related services.
This short-lived reform, referred to as the Funder Owner Purchaser Provider (FOPP) model, was adopted to fund health services both inside and outside of the public health system. A consequence of the creation of the SHPA was the transfer of the ADA’s responsibility for purchasing services to the SHPA.
A specialist area was created within the DOH, which over the period between the 1997/1998 to 2001/2002 was named variously –
- Drug and Alcohol Policy and Planning Unit (DAPPU) – within the Mental Health Division
- Alcohol and Drug Policy and Planning Section (ADPPS) – within the Mental Health Division
- Alcohol and Other Drug Program (AODP) – within the Population Health Division
- Alcohol and Drug Policy Branch (ADPB) – within the Mental Health Division
Next Step Drug and Alcohol Services (1999 > present)
Next Step was established in April 1999 as a trading name under the Business Names Act 1962, which rebranded the ADA’s former Central Drug Unit site in East Perth, where it also operated an outpatient service, in addition to its short-stay inpatient detoxification service.
Drug and Alcohol Office (2002 – 2015)
The Drug and Alcohol Office (DAO) was established in July 2002. It assumed administrative responsibility for the ADA, even though the ADA continued as a legal entity. It also managed the Next Step, the ADA’s remaining directly operated treatment facility.
Mental Health Commission (2015 > present)
The DAO ceased to operate at 30 June 2015 and its functions, as well as those of the ADA, were absorbed by the Mental Health Commission.
As a result of the Alcohol and Drug Authority Amendment Act 2015, the statutory framework of the ADA was replaced by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Ministerial Body and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board, under provisions in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Act 1974.