Primary Health Network (PHN)

In December 2015, the Australian Government announced the release of the Australian Government Response to the National Ice Taskforce Final Report (the Response). The Response underpinned the National Ice Action Strategy (NIAS), which was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 11 December 2015.

The Australian Government has invested approximately $561 million over four years from 1 July 2016 in drug and alcohol treatment services, as part of a $713 million investment in reducing the impact of drug and alcohol misuse on individuals, families and communities under the Drug and Alcohol Program.

Approximately $412.1 million of this investment was provided to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to commission locally based treatment in line with community need. This includes the $241.5 million committed under the NIAS. This funding was delivered through the Australian Government’s Drug and Alcohol Program and aims to improve the access to, and effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment services in the community.

The main source of data about specialist drug and alcohol treatment services in Australia is the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (the AODTS NMDS), compiled on an annual basis from administrative data by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

PHN-commissioned specialist alcohol and other drug treatment providers collect data, in accordance with the AODTS NMDS, on in-scope specialist treatment services and provide it to the AIHW. Alcohol and other drug treatment agencies funded by PHN organisations under the Drug and Alcohol Program submitted data to the AODTS NMDS for the first time in 2016–17.

The following set of data visualisations present information at PHN geographic areas. The data presented are from all publicly funded AOD treatment services (which includes PHN-commissioned services) that have reported to the AODTS NMDS (see technical notes for more details).

PHNs are organisations that connect health services across a specific geographic area (PHN areas). There are 31 PHN areas that cover the whole of Australia with the boundaries defined by the Australian Government Department of Health. Some states/territories consist of a single PHN area, while others are made up of multiple PHN areas.


Alcohol and other drug treatment agencies

The following data visualisation shows:

  • Number of agencies, by Primary Health Network area, 2019–20.
  • Number of agencies, by sector and Primary Health Network area, 2015–16 to 2019–20.

The dashboard shows the number of agencies in Australia by sector between 2015–16 and 2019–20. There were 458 government agencies, and 915 non-government agencies in Australia in 2019–20. The number of non-government agencies has increased from 506 in 2015–16. North Western Melbourne had the highest number of agencies (106 agencies), and the Gold Coast had the lowest number of agencies (12 agencies).


Alcohol and other drug treatment

The following data visualisation shows:

  • Closed treatment episodes, by PHN area of client and main treatment type, 2015–16 to 2019–20.
  • Closed treatment episodes, by PHN area of client and source of referral, 2019–20.                         
  • Closed treatment episodes, by PHN area of client and treatment delivery setting, 2019–20.  

The dashboard shows the number of closed episodes provided to clients. Counselling remained the most common main treatment type between 2015–16 and 2019–20, falling slightly from 40% in 2016–17 to 37% in 2019–20 of closed treatment episodes. Assessment only was the second most common main treatment type in 2019–20 (19% of closed episodes). In 2019–20, the most common source of referral was self/family (36% of closed episodes), and non-residential treatment facilities were the most common treatment delivery setting (64% of closed episodes).


Alcohol and other drug treatment map

The following data visualisation shows:

  • Closed treatment episodes, by PHN area of client and main treatment type, 2015–16 to 2019–20.

Where counselling was the main treatment type in 2019–20, Perth South had the highest number of closed treatment episodes (6,480), and Murrumbidgee had the lowest number of closed treatment episodes (726).


Client demographics

The following data visualisation shows:

  • Clients by PHN area of client, client type and sex, 2019–20.
  • Clients by PHN area of client, client type and age group, 2019–20.
  • Clients by PHN area of client, client type and Indigenous status, 2019–20.

The dashboard shows the demographics of clients treated in Australia in 2019–20. Of a total 145,726 estimated clients, most (93%) received treatment for their own drug use. Almost 2 in 3 clients (64%) were male, 17% were Indigenous Australians, and 54% were aged 20–39 years.


Principal drug of concern

The following data visualisation shows:

  • Closed treatment episodes for clients who received treatment for their own drug use by PHN area of client and principal drug of concern, 2015–16 to 2019–20.
  • Closed treatment episodes for clients who received treatment for their own drug use by PHN area of client and main treatment type, 2019–20.
  • Closed treatment episodes for clients who received treatment for their own drug use by PHN area of client and source of referral, 2019–20.

In 2019–20, 218,139 closed episodes were provided nationally to clients for their own drug use. Alcohol has remained the most common principal drug of concern between 2015–16 and 2019–20, declining slightly from 36% of treatment episodes to 34%. Amphetamines was the second most common principal drug of concern in 2019–20 (28%), followed by cannabis (19%) and heroin (5.1%). The most common main treatment type in 2019–20 was counselling (37% of episodes), followed by assessment only (19%). Over 1 in 3 treatment episodes (35%) reported self/family as the source of referral, while 33% listed a health service.


Principal drug of concern map

The following data visualisation shows:

  • Closed treatment episodes by PHN area of client and principal drug of concern, 2015–16 to 2019–20.

In 2019–20, where alcohol was the principal drug of concern, North West Melbourne had the highest number of closed treatment episodes (5,725) and Murrumbidgee had the lowest (645).