Australia

In Australia in 2016–17, 836 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided 200,751 treatment episodes to 127,404 distinct clients (Tables 1 and SA.1). This equates to 945 episodes and 600 clients per 100,000 population.

Over the 5 years to 2016–17, the number of publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies providing data about services for clients seeking treatment and support rose from 714 to 836 (Table SA.1). This increase that was largely driven by increases in reporting agencies in New South Wales (from 245 to 318), Queensland (from 133 to 168), and Western Australia (from 68 to 87).

Nearly all (96%) clients in 2016–17 were receiving treatment for their own drug use (Table SC.1). Most clients receiving treatment for their own drug use were male (68%), most clients receiving treatment or support for someone else’s drug use were female (66%) (Table SC.2). The majority of clients (55%) were aged 20–39 years (Table SC.3). Around 1 in 7 clients (15%) were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (Table SC.4).

 
Table 1: State and territory characteristics, 2016–17
  NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas ACT NT Aust
Number of agencies 318 131 168 87 70 24 15 23 836

Number of episodes

37,997

67,150

44,396

24,383

11,665

3,389

6,389

5,382

200,751

Number of clients(a)

24,865

33,610

33,541

18,099

8,463

2,401

3,949

3,459

127,404

Rate of episodes (per 100,000 population)

559

1,232

1,048

1,096

772

742

1,814

2,593

945

Rate of clients (a)(per 100,000 population)

366

617

792

814

560

526

1,121

1,666

600

  1. based on clients with a valid statistical linkage key (SLK).

Treatment over time

In 2016–17, most clients attended 1 agency (83%) (Table SC.23), and received 1 treatment episode (71%) (Table SC.22). On average, clients received 1.6 treatment episodes in 2016–17 (Table SC.21).

Nationally, a total of 370,777 closed treatment episodes were provided to clients over the 4 most recent collection years, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17. Of these closed episodes, varying proportions of clients received some form of treatment across multiple collection years (Table SC.28):

  • 5.1% (18,858) of clients received treatment in the 2 most recent collection years, that is, in both 2015–16 and 2016–17
  • 1.7% (6,277) of clients received treatment in the 3 most recent collection years, that is, in each year from 2014–15 to 2016–17
  • 1.4% (5,193) of clients received treatment in all 4 collection years, that is, in each year from 2013–14 to 2016–17
  • about 1 in 5 clients (21% or 77,889 clients) received treatment in 2016–17 only, and a similar proportion (20% or 72,809 clients) received treatment in 2015–16 only.

In 2016–17, the most common principal drugs of concern in Australia (the primary drug leading someone to seek treatment) were alcohol (31% of clients, and 32% of episodes), amphetamines (24% of clients, and 26% of episodes), cannabis (24% of clients, and 22% of episodes), and heroin (4% of clients, and 5% of episodes) (Table SD.1). Since 2012–13, the proportion of treatment episodes where alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern fell (from 41% to 32%), while the proportion of episodes for amphetamines rose (from 14% to 26%) (Table SD.2).

In 2016-17, counselling continued to be the most common main treatment type provided (40% of episodes, and 43% of clients), followed by assessment only (16% of episodes, and 16% of clients), support and case management (14% of episodes, and 14% of clients), and withdrawal management (12% of episodes, and 9% of clients) (Tables SC.15 and ST.1). Over the 5 years to 2016–17, the proportion of treatment episodes for each main treatment type has remained relatively stable.