THE OFFICE OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER HEALTH (OATSIH) IS ABOUT TO FURTHER “WIDEN THE GAP” 1ST INSTALLMENT - 10 Aug 2009
30th July 2009
As the RUDD Government goes about “Closing the Gap” the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) is about to further “WIDEN THE GAP” by De funding the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (ADAC).
In 2004, ADAC along with all funded organisations had to move from cash accounting to accrual accounting (where you needed to provide provision for long service leave and a range of other issues such as depreciation), which we did and showed that we had a deficit of $140,000.
The support and help from OATSIH was deafening, in other words they did nothing.
ADAC also agreed with OATSIH in 2004 to conduct a Review of ADAC and after OATSIH spent in excess of $90,000 the Final Report and Recommendations from the Review were presented in 2006, this stated that the South Australian community still wanted and supported ADAC as the Peak Community Controlled Substance Misuse organisation.
In December 2008, ADAC asked OATSIH for $20,000 to employ their new Auditor Basso and Newman to look at and verify our finances and in January 2009, the department informed us that they would NOT fund, as it was not a priority.
In March 2009, we received a letter from OATSIH for an urgent meeting regarding ADAC ‘s financial position. At this meeting it was agreed that the department would Tender for an Auditor to look at our finances and Basso and Newman were awarded the contract. ADAC would also provide the department with ways that we could reduce costs, which we supplied.
OATSIH also stated that they wanted to help ADAC work through our outstanding deficit by reducing our Recurrent funding from every 3 months (quarterly) to monthly.
Working with ADAC staff Basso and Newman handed OATSIH there report on the 22nd May 2009. The department constantly told us that they had not made a decision, as they need to wait until the DELEGATE in Canberra had come to some decision.
On 28th June 2009, the ADAC Director rang OATSIH asking if we were getting a funding Contract for the 2009/2010 financial year.
We were told yes but it would only be monthly and only until 30th September 2009 as they were still waiting on a decision regarding our future.
The ADAC Director rang OATSIH on Tuesday 21st July to ask what had happened with the Audit report as ADAC were looking at leasing a new office that would save us $60,000 per year.
Later that day we were contacted and asked to attend a meeting on Friday 24th July.
At this meeting attended by the ADAC Director and Chairperson (via teleconference) and 5 OATSIH staff, we received the letter informing us that we had 20 business days to respond on why the department should not de fund us.
This was read out to the ADAC Chairperson over the phone.
We asked for a copy of the Audit report (which the department has had since 22nd May) that ADAC had not seen which was the basis for the letter.
We were informed that we had been sent a copy which when the department realised was not correct the State Director was given a copy.
They also wrote letter to all major State Government agencies (even agencies that we had no funding agreement with) informing them that ADAC in their opinion was insolvent.
This resulted in ADAC losing Contracts worth $580,000. This included the Spirit Festival that ADAC had hosted as a smoke, drug and alcohol free event for the past 2 years.
ADAC is currently in the process of responding but we need your support now more than ever.
ADAC is still the only Peak Aboriginal substance misuse body of its kind in Australia and below are some reasons why it is still needed.
If ADAC is defunded there will not be a replacement body and the support and programs that have been built up to the benefit of all Aboriginal people in South Australia will disappear or will be mainstreamed to groups like DASSA.
ADAC is the largest Aboriginal Community Controlled organisation in South Australia with 24 Community organisational member spread out across the state with community organisation members in urban, regional, rural and remote communities.
ADAC came about after a number of community meetings at Pitchi Ritchi in 1992 to discuss the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody (RCIBDIC) report. The community agreed that one way of addressing the issues was to establish a Peak substance misuse body that became known as ADAC.
ADAC was established and funded in February 1993 and has been in operation for the past 16 years. In that time we have continued to provide programs such as Making Tracks and Police Drug Diversion to name a few. We have also provided education to the community around alcohol and other drugs. Some of the other areas we have been active in include the following;
Research ADAC conducted the only research to look at illicit drugs and injecting amongst Aboriginal people in Murray Bridge and Adelaide, which were and are still the largest of its kind conducted in Australia.
Petrol Sniffing ADAC developed and distributing the Petrol Sniffing Resource Kit to communities in SA as well as across Australia.
ADAC was also awarded the Tender to evaluate the COMGAS (AVGAS) Scheme nationally that in a small part led to the introduction of OPAL fuel.
Education last year 11 Aboriginal people successfully graduated with a Certificate in alcohol and other drugs for the first time in SA.
Advocacy ADAC staff advocate on behalf of the Aboriginal Community on a range of state and national committees (see attached list).
This has seen a Petrol Sniffing facility in the Far North as well as Day Centres in Cooper Pedy, Ceduna and Port Augusta to mention a few.
Along with Flinders University we conducted research and training into the Better Medication Management for Aboriginal People with Mental Health Disorders and their Carers in Cooper Pedy, Port Lincoln and Adelaide.
Again with Flinders University ADAC developed the Alcohol Treatment Guidelines for Indigenous Australians.
Alcohol Related Dementia Strengthening Dementia Care in Indigenous Communities is the only project of its kind in Australia.
If you would still want an organisation like ADAC and will support us in our ongoing battle for social justice and equity with OATSIH send, letters of support to ADAC at 54 King William Street, Kent Town SA 5067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Or send letters of support to;
The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing, PO Box 6022 House of Representatives, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600, or fax (02) 6273 4146
The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs PO Box 6022 House of Representatives, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600, or fax (02) 6273 4122
And The Hon Warren Snowden MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery. PO Box 6022 House of Representatives, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600, or fax (02) 6273 4117
If you want further information or would like the ADAC Director to come to your community and discuss the issues please do not hesitate to contact me on 08 8362 7540.
Yours in the Struggle
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