Who provides publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services?

The Australian Government and state and territory governments fund non-government and government agencies to provide a range of alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services. Treatment services are delivered in residential and non-residential settings, and often include treatments such as detoxification, rehabilitation, counselling and pharmacotherapy.

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS) contains information on publicly funded AOD treatment agencies and their service delivery outlets. An agency can have more than one service delivery outlet, located in different areas.

In 2020–21, 1,278 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided services in Australia.

In 2020–21, 1,278 publicly funded AOD treatment agencies reported to the AODTS NMDS. The number of agencies in each jurisdiction ranged from 16 in the Australian Capital Territory to 485 in New South Wales. The number of agencies reporting to the AODTS NMDS in 2020–21 increased from 1,258 in 2019–20 (Figure AODTSAGENCIES.1).

Over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in the total number of AOD treatment agencies (from 659 in 2011–12 to 1,278 in 2020–21). This has been driven by increases in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia. The expansion in the sector has seen a growth in the number of non-government AOD treatment services (from 342 in 2011–12 to 868 in 2020–21).  The expansion has included new funding arrangements for existing AOD programs to increase service, collaboration across agencies and new treatment services. See the Alcohol and other drug treatment services NMDS Data Quality Statement, 2020–21 for further information.  

Service sector

A mix of government and non-government agencies deliver publicly funded AOD treatment services. Nationally in 2020–21, over two-thirds (68%) of AOD treatment agencies were non-government, and these agencies provided 72% of all treatment episodes. In the decade from 2011–12, the proportion of non-government services has increased from 52% to 68% nationally.

Across most of Australia in 2021–21, the majority of AOD treatment agencies were non-government services, with proportions ranging from 63% in South Australia to 99% in Victoria. The exception was New South Wales, where the majority (62%) of AOD treatment agencies were government services (Figure AODTSAGENCIES.1).

In 2020–21, almost 3 in 5 (57%) agencies were located in Major cities. Almost 7 in 10 (69%) agencies located in Major cities were non-government agencies, compared with 62% in 2016–17.

Figure AODTSAGENCIES.1: Treatment agencies, by sector and state and territory, 2011–12 to 2020–21

The horizontal bar chart shows the number and proportion of alcohol and other drug treatment agencies by sector (government and non-government) and state and territory.

In 2020–21, Australia had 1,278 agencies; New South Wales had 485 agencies; Victoria had 354 agencies; Queensland had 182 agencies; Western Australia had 108 agencies; South Australia had 84 agencies; the Australian Capital Territory had 16 agencies; and the Northern Territory had 25 agencies.

Nationally in 2021, over 2 in 3 (67%) AOD treatment agencies were non-government. Across states and territories, the proportion of non-government AOD agencies ranged from 38% of agencies in New South Wales to 99% of agencies in Victoria.

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Location of agencies

The proportion of AOD treatment services catering for specific drugs of concern varies with the geographic distribution of the client population, and specialised services. This means that access to treatment will vary depending on the drug of concern, treatment availability, and specific population group receiving treatment.

Figure AODTSAGENCIES.2: Treatment agencies by Statistical Area Level 3, 2020–21

The map shows the distribution of alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia, disaggregated by Statistical Area Level 3 (SA3). The number of agencies range from 1­-3 agencies per SA3 to more than 13 agencies per SA3.

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