In April 2015 the Australian Government established a National Ice Taskforce (the Taskforce) to report on actions needed to address crystal methamphetamine use in Australia. The Taskforce recommended actions aimed at reducing demand, supply, and the harms associated with crystal methamphetamine use.
The National Ice Action Strategy (NIAS) was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in December 2015 with the goal of reducing the prevalence of ice use and resulting harms across the Australian community.
The NIAS identified five action areas, as follows:
- support for families and communities;
- targeted prevention;
- investment in treatment and workforce;
- focused law enforcement; and
- better research and data
This audit was undertaken to provide assurance that a key strategy to reduce the prevalence of crystal methamphetamine use and resulting harms across the Australian community is being implemented effectively and that progress on the delivery of the actions presented in the NIAS is transparent. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2016, 50,000 people self-reported using crystal methamphetamine at least once a week. The Australian Government budgeted NIAS funding for actions that the Department of Health has responsibility for implementing is $451.5 million over six years (from 2016–17 to 2021–22). Through consultation with the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, this audit topic was identified as an Audit Priority of the Parliament in 2018.
- The Department of Health’s (the department) implementation of the National Ice Action Strategy is partially effective. While Australian Government funding to the alcohol and other drug sector has been increased and actions have been progressed, there is no monitoring to assess whether progress is being made towards the Strategy’s goal of reducing the prevalence of ice use and resulting harms across the Australian community.
- The department has established appropriate governance arrangements to support implementation of the National Ice Action Strategy, but did not plan for implementation effectively. Performance and accountability measures were not developed, and implementation and risk plans were not used.
- The department’s delivery of actions contained in the National Ice Action Strategy is largely effective. The department has delivered, or is in the process of delivering, the 19 actions it has responsibility for and Australian Government funding for the alcohol and other drug sector has increased. Although the department monitors the activities of Primary Health Networks, it has not finalised a quality and assurance framework that would allow it to assess that Primary Heath Networks are effectively commissioning, monitoring and evaluating alcohol and other drug services.
- The department does not have an evaluation approach in place for the National Ice Action Strategy, and is not monitoring progress towards the goal and objective. Public reporting by the department does not currently provide sufficient transparency about how implementation is progressing or what progress is being made towards the goal and objective.