New report shows the real impact of stigma and discrimination

QNADA congratulates the Queensland Mental Health Commission on the release of the Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives report which reveals the extent of stigma and discrimination on people experiencing problems related to their alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. 

Rebecca Lang, Chief Executive of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies (QNADA) says, ‘The research this report contains confirms what we have long known – experiencing stigma and discrimination is sadly a common occurrence in the everyday lives of people experiencing problematic alcohol and other drug use.”

‘Hearing people describe, in detail, multiple, specific times that they had been judged, treated badly, looked down upon or excluded because of their AOD use is distressing.’

When asked how these experiences of stigma and discrimination made them feel, people involved in the research described feelings of degradation, shame and anger. This contributes to further problematic use for people and creates a barrier to asking for help. Some people are also discouraged from seeking help by the stigma they face from health care professionals and the broader community as users of alcohol and other drugs.

Ms Lang applauds the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic, for identifying 18 options for change that will focus on educating and changing individual attitudes, challenging stereotypes, reforming policies and laws, and highlighting AOD use as a health concern, rather than a moral or criminal issue.

The Commission’s reform options are based on stakeholder consultation, as well as research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Both reports are available at www.qmhc.qld.gov.au.

For more information, anecdotes or comment, please contact Rebecca Lang on 0408 669 590.

Reinstatement of Queensland’s Drug and Alcohol Court

QNADA welcomes the reinstatement of Queensland’s Drug and Alcohol Court (the Court) which was launched yesterday morning. The Court will link offenders whose substance use contributes to their offending behaviour with intensive case management and treatment services.

Queenslanders have been unable to access this important service for more than four years after it was discontinued in 2012. Yesterday’s launch comes after the completion of a significant review of the Drug and Specialists Courts system in 2016. 

Rebecca Lang, CEO of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (QNADA), attended the launch yesterday morning alongside the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Yvette D’Ath  and Chief Magistrate, Judge Ray Rinaudo. 

Ms Lang congratulated the Palaszczuk government for both the re-establishment of the Court and the review process itself which she says was “wide-ranging, comprehensive, and really left no stone unturned. This new model will build and improve upon the model that was discontinued in 2012.”

The Court will initially operate in Brisbane but will look to expand in Queensland once the model has been evaluated and refined.  A multi-disciplinary team, will work with participants while they complete their treatment.  The team includes Legal Aid Queensland, Corrective Services, Queensland Health, Queensland Police Service, Department of Justice and Attorney General, and non-government treatment services.

Ms Lang continued, “QNADA is pleased that non-government treatment providers are involved in the assessment, treatment, and case management planning for Drug Court participants. These treatment services are best placed to provide accurate information to the Drug and Alcohol Court team and the Chief Magistrate about the treatment and support they can provide to clients.  Ongoing involvement and collaboration will support positive relationships between the court and service providers and ultimately will be critical to its success.”

Ms Lang also acknowledged Lives Lived Well and the Salvation Army, both QNADA members, for their participation in the pilot program by providing places in their residential programs.

QNADA is the peak organisation representing the views of 49 non-government alcohol and other drug treatment services.  Through our sector expertise, network of experienced members and links across complementary human service delivery sectors, QNADA is well-placed to provide practical advice and front-line service delivery experiences to inform policy and program advancement for the sector.

For more information, anecdotes or comment, please contact Rebecca Lang on 0408 669 590.

Problematic use in rural and regional Qld

QNADA CEO, Rebecca Lang is quoted in Regional Quest newspapers in this report which explores the extent of problematic substance use in regional Queensland.