Agencies

The Australian Government and state and territory governments fund both government and non-government organisations to provide a range of Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) treatment services (see Key terminology and glossary). Services are delivered in residential and non-residential settings and include treatments such as detoxification, rehabilitation, counselling and pharmacotherapy.

The AODTS NMDS contains information on a subset of publicly funded AOD treatment services (see Policy Framework for details of collection scope).

Key findings

In 2019–20:

  • a total of 1,258 publicly funded agencies provided data about their treatment services to the AODTS NMDS
  • over 2 in 3 (67%) agencies were non-government
  • nearly 3 in 5 (58%) agencies were located in Major cities
  • nationally, counselling was the most common main treatment type provided by agencies across all remoteness areas except for Very remote areas where it was information and education.

Nationally, over the 10-year period to 2019–20:

  • the total number of publicly funded agencies providing AOD treatment rose from 666 in 2010–11 to 1,258 in 2010–11—an increase of 89%.

Number of agencies

In 2019–20:

  • 1,258 publicly funded AOD treatment agencies reported to the AODTS NMDS, a decrease of 1.9% (from 1,283) since 2018–19. This decrease is due to agency changes in reporting requirements, newly funded services which were still establishing reporting and/ or resourcing issues.
  • The number of agencies ranged from 16 in the Australian Capital Territory to 473 in New South Wales (Table SA.1).

Over the 10-year period to 2019–20:

  • there has been an 89% increase in the number of reporting agencies (from 666 to 1,258). The increase is largely due to increases in reporting agencies in New South Wales (from 262 to 473), Victoria (from 136 to 338), Queensland (109 to 194) and Western Australia (56 to 104) (Table SA.1).

A number of issues can affect the increase or decrease in the number of agencies reporting within jurisdictions, and these include:

  • new client management systems improving data provision
  • funding of new services
  • technical issues with new or old reporting systems
  • overburden of reporting on small agencies.

Other changes to agency reporting include reporting from the head-office level to the service outlet level, which increases the number of agencies within one organisation. Most jurisdictions are continuing to work to improve the coverage and quality of data supplied by agencies.


Service sector

Nationally, in 2019–20:

  • over 2 in 3 (67% or 843) AOD treatment agencies were non‑government, and these agencies provided nearly three-quarters (73% or 174,305) of closed treatment episodes (Figure AGENCIES1).

The service sector varied by jurisdiction. In 2019–20:

  • in New South Wales the majority of treatment agencies were in the government sector (62%)
  • in the remaining states and territories, most treatment agencies were in the non‑government sector, ranging from 65% in South Australia and Tasmania to 99% in Victoria (Table SA.1).

Over the 10-year period to 2019–20:

  • the proportion of non‑government agencies increased from 54% to 67%
  • the proportion of closed treatment episodes provided by non-government agencies increased from 61% to 73% (Tables SA.1 and 2).

Figure AGENCIES1: Publicly funded AOD treatment agencies by service sector, states and territories, 2010–11 to 2019–20 (%)

The vertical bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, New South Wales had the highest proportion of government agencies (62%), while Victoria had the highest proportion of non-government agencies (99%). Nationally, over 2 in 3 (67%) AOD treatment agencies were non-government.


Location of agencies

In 2019–20:

  • Nearly 3 in 5 (58% or 724) treatment agencies were located in Major cities and a quarter (25% or 311) were in Inner regional areas (Table SA.3). Agencies in these two areas provided 82% of all closed treatment episodes (Table SA.4; Figure AGENCIES2).
  • Relatively few agencies were located in Remote and Very remote areas (5% in total).
  • This pattern was similar across most states and territories, except for Northern Territory where 32% of agencies were located in Remote and 20% in Very remote areas (Table SA.3).

Over the 5 year period to 2019–20:

  • Nationally, the total number of agencies has increased, rising from 791 agencies in 2015–16 to 1,258 agencies in 2019–20.

The majority of agencies were located in Major cities: this trend was similar for most states and territories, but does not apply to the Northern Territory and Tasmania which do not have these areas. 

Figure AGENCIES2: Publicly funded AOD treatment agencies by remoteness, states and territories, 2015–16 to 2019–20 (%)

The horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, most agencies (63%) in New South Wales were located in Major cities. Tasmania and Northern Territory do not have any areas classified as Major cities. Nationally, almost 3 in 5 (58%) agencies were located in major cities.

There was variation across remoteness areas based on the type of main treatment provided. Nationally, in 2019–20:

  • Counselling was the most common main treatment type provided by agencies across all remoteness areas except for Very remote areas.
  • The proportion of treatment episodes for counselling ranged from as high as 53% in Remote areas to 35% in Major cities (Figure AGENCIES3).

At a jurisdictional level, variation was also apparent. In 2019–20:

  • Agencies across all remoteness areas in New South Wales most commonly provided counselling, ranging from 39% of closed treatment episodes in Major cities to 94% in Very remote areas. The high proportion of treatment episodes for counselling provided by agencies in Very remote areas represents a substantial increase from 71% in 2018–19.
    • Withdrawal management treatment provided by agencies in Major cities accounted for 17% of their treatment episodes compared with less than 10% in all other remoteness areas.
  • In Victoria there was no dominant pattern across remoteness areas. Agencies in Major cities most commonly provided support and case management (31% closed episodes), Inner regional agencies most commonly provided assessment only (32%) and Outer regional counselling (36%) as a treatment.
    • Withdrawal management and rehabilitation treatments were similarly provided across Major cities, and Inner regional and Outer regional areas (8–9% of closed episodes and 3–4%, respectively) (Figure AGENCIES3).

Note that remoteness categories are derived by applying a correspondence based on the agency’s Statistical Area level 2 code (SA2). See technical notes for information on how this affects the reporting of the number of agencies in a particular remoteness category.

Figure AGENCIES3: Treatment episodes by states and territories, treatment type and remoteness of agency 2015–16 to 2019–20 (%)

The horizontal bar chart shows the national proportion of treatment types by remoteness areas for 2019–20. Counselling was the most common main treatment type in Major cities, accounting for over 1 in 3 (35%) of treatment episodes, followed by support and case management (18%). Counselling was the main treatment type for over half (53%) of treatment episodes in Remote areas. Information and education was the main treatment type for almost half of all treatment episodes (47%) in Very remote areas.