Victoria

In 2019–20, 338 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Victoria provided 86,142 closed treatment episodes to 37,391 clients (tables SA.1, SCR.21).

Victoria reported:

  • a 33% increase in closed treatment episodes from 64,546 in 2018–19 to 86,142 in 2019–20 due to the ability of the new collection system to capture service types not able to be reported previously (such as support); and a 34% increase in closed treatment episodes compared with 2015–16 (64,118).

  • an 11% increase in clients between 2018–19 to 2019–20 (37,391), due to system changes and flexible AOD treatment delivery with improved reporting (note: 2015–16 client numbers are based on imputed values). Clients numbers remained consistent from 2015–16 (33,312) to 2018–19 (33,699).

The visualisation shows that 86,142 closed treatment episodes were provided to an estimated 37,391 clients in Victoria in 2019–20. This equates to a rate of 1,477 episodes and 641 clients per 100,000 population, compared with 1,064 episodes and 624 clients per 100,000 population reported nationally.

In 2019–20, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) clients in Victoria attended 1 agency and received an average of 2.3 closed treatment episodes, which is higher than the national average of 1.7 treatment episodes (tables SCR.21, SCR.23). This is due to the nuances of Victoria’s data collection system, where each type of treatment results in a separate treatment episode.


Client demographics

In 2019–20:

  • 8 in 10 (82%) clients in Victoria received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, of which, most (65%) were male (Figure 5)
  • 0.1% of all clients reported sex as ‘other’, the highest proportion reported across all states and territories in the collection period. This category was collected for the first time in 2018–19
  • nearly 3 in 5 (57%) clients were aged 20–39 years
  • 8.5% of all clients identified as Indigenous Australians, which is lower than the national proportion (17%)
  • the majority (82%) of all clients were born in Australia and most (94%) reported English as their preferred language (tables SC VIC.1–3, SC.4, SC VIC.21–22).

The visualisation includes a series of horizontal bar graphs showing that, in 2019–20, 4 in 5 (82%) clients in Victoria received treatment for their own drug use. Of these clients, just under two-thirds (65%) were male, 58% were aged 20–39, and 8% were Indigenous Australians. Nearly all clients (95%) listed English as their preferred language and most (85%) were born in Australia.

Patterns of service use

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20, 111,525 clients received treatment in Victoria. Of these clients:

  • the majority received treatment in a single year (65%)
    • 17% (19,305) received treatment for the first time in 2019–20
    • a further 48% (53,831) received treatment in only one of the four collection periods (excluding 2019–20)
  • 22% (23,994) of clients received treatment in any 2 of the 5 years
  • 8.3% (9,269) of clients received treatment in any 3 of the 5 years
  • 3.3% (3,732) of clients received treatment in any 4 of the 5 years
  • 1.2% (1,394) of clients received treatment in all 5 collection years (Table SCR.28).

Drugs of concern

In 2019–20, for clients in Victoria receiving treatment episodes for their own alcohol or drug use:

  • Amphetamines were the most common principal drug of concern (29% of treatment episodes) (Figure 6; Table SE VIC.10)
  • alcohol was also a common principal drug of concern, accounting for 28% of treatment episodes, followed by cannabis (16%), and heroin (5%)
  • within the amphetamines group:
    • methamphetamine was reported as a principal drug of concern in 3 in 5 (60%) of treatment episodes (Figure 6a)
    • smoking was the most common method of use in 62% of episodes where methamphetamine was the principal drug of concern (Figure 6b).

Victoria is working with service providers to encourage more specific reporting of amphetamine use (i.e. to reduce the use of ‘amphetamines not further defined’ code where possible).   

Victoria reported comparatively high incidences of ‘Not stated drugs’ (15%) as the drug of concern. This is in part due to service providers adjusting to changes in reporting practices associated with the implementation of a new data collection system in 2019–20. Victoria is working with service providers to encourage more specific reporting of drug of concern.

Clients can nominate up to 5 additional drugs of concern; these drugs are not necessarily the subject of any treatment within the episode (see Technical notes).

In 2019–20, when the client reported additional drugs of concern:

  • cannabis was the most common (23% of episodes), followed by nicotine (22%), alcohol (19%), and amphetamines (12%) (Table SE VIC.11).

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • amphetamines replaced alcohol as the most common principal drug of concern for clients (Table SE VIC.10), increasing over time from 22% in 2015–16 to 29% in 2019–20
  • alcohol was the second most common principal drug of concern. The proportion of episodes with a principal drug of concern for alcohol decreased from 30% to 28% over this period
  • within the amphetamines group, methamphetamine was reported as the principal drug of concern in less than 5% of episodes (3.5%) in 2015–16, before a large increase to 43% in 2018–19 and 60% in 2019–20 (Figure 6a). The rise in episodes for methamphetamine is mainly due to improvements in agency coding practices for methamphetamines, although some of the increase in episodes could be related to increases in funded treatment services.
  • the proportion of closed treatment episodes for cannabis has stayed relatively stable, increasing from 17% in 2015–16 to 20% in 2017–18 before dropping to 16% in 2019–20 (Figure 6).

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, the most common principal drug of concern in treatment episodes provided to clients in Victoria for their own drug use was amphetamines (29%). This was followed by alcohol (28%), cannabis (16%), and heroin (5.3%). Cannabis was the most common additional drug of concern (10%), followed by nicotine (9.6%), alcohol (8.1%), and amphetamines (5.5%).

The line graph shows that, from 2015–16 to 2019–20, amphetamines not further defined was the most common drug of concern among meth/amphetamine-related treatment episodes for clients’ own use until 2019–20 when methamphetamine became the most common drug of concern (60%). The proportion of episodes for amphetamines not further defined decreased from 2017–18 (91% of meth/amphetamine-related episodes) to 2019–20 (36%), while it increased for methamphetamines (from 5.9% to 60%).

The stacked horizontal bar chart shows the method of use for treatment episodes related to clients’ own use of methamphetamine, amphetamine, amphetamines not further defined, and other amphetamines in Victoria in 2019–20. Smoking was the most common method of use across all amphetamine codes (56–64% of treatment episodes), followed by injecting (17–24% of episodes).


Treatment

In 2019–20, for treatment episodes in Victoria:

  • support and case management was the most common main treatment type (28% of episodes); this was followed by counselling (27%) (Figure 7; Table SE VIC.20).

In 2019–20, Victoria finalised implementation of a new data collection system (VADC) which allows agencies to report additional treatment types against the AODTS NMDS. As a result, there will be differences in the proportion of additional treatment types reported prior to 2019–20.

Where an additional treatment was provided as a supplementary to the main treatment, ‘other’ treatment (2%) was the most common (Table SE VIC.20).  See technical notes for further information on calculating proportions for additional treatment type.

Over the period from 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • counselling remained one of the most common main treatment types for all closed episodes in 2019–20 (27%), albeit decreasing from 33% in 2018–19
  • support and case management as a main treatment type decreased from 30% in 2015–16 to 18% in 2018–19 before rising to 28% in 2019–20 
  • withdrawal management decreased from 14% to 9% over the same period (Figure 7; Table SE VIC.20).

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, the most common main treatment type provided to clients in Victoria for their own drug use was support and case management (28% of episodes). This was followed by counselling (27%), assessment only (25%), and withdrawal management (8.6%). Additional treatment types were uncommon, reported in less than 1% of treatment episodes.


Agencies

In 2019–20 in Victoria:

  • only 3 of the 338 AOD agencies that received public funding were government treatment agencies
  • around 6 in 10 (62%) treatment agencies were located in Major cities, followed by Inner regional areas (29%) (Figure 8; Table SA.3)
  • Victoria does not have any areas classified as Remote or Very remote.

In the period from 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • the number of publicly funded treatment agencies in Victoria increased from 129 in 2015–16 to 404 in 2018–19 before dropping to 338 in 2019–20 (Table SA.1).

Victoria reported an increase in the number of in-scope services in 2019–20 due to improved data collection systems which allow reporting at the service outlet location rather than head office level (see the Data Quality Statement).

The horizontal bar chart shows that Victoria does not have any areas classified as Remote or Very remote. Most treatment agencies in Victoria were located in Major cities (208 agencies), followed by Inner regional (98 agencies) and Outer regional (32 agencies) areas. Nearly all (335 agencies) of the total 338 agencies were non-government.