CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
SENATOR DEBORAH O’NEILL
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR INNOVATION
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
LABOR TO INTRODUCE NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE DRUG AND ALCOHOL TREATMENT PROVIDERS
A Shorten Labor Government will protect patients and families by regulating for-profit drug and alcohol treatment providers for the first time.
With no national accreditation requirements in the for-profit sector outside of hospitals, some private treatment providers are luring desperate families into their services with big promises. But their expensive, unregulated programs often deliver no verifiable results.
A set of minimum standards will stop these providers from taking advantage of people who are struggling with drug and alcohol issues, as well as their families.
Labor will task the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQHC) with developing a national accreditation process for rehabilitation treatment services. This will be done cooperatively with the states and territories through the COAG Health Council.
Labor’s commitment will address issues with:
- Workforce – There’s currently no standard to govern the workforce within treatment facilities – meaning people with little or no qualifications are currently allowed to run private rehabilitation programs.
- Quality – A lack of regulation means that for-profit providers can charge exorbitant amounts for treatment with no clinical evidence.
- Consistency – Publicly-funded drug and alcohol services are already overseen by Commonwealth, state and territory agencies – as all services should be. A national accreditation process will build confidence across the sector.
In October 2015, the Government’s own Ice Taskforce called on the Government to “design and implement a national quality framework that sets the standards” for drug and alcohol services. But more than two years later, there are still no minimum standards in the private sector, leaving patients and families at the mercy of for-profit providers.
Because there are long wait times for access to public rehabilitation programs, we know that many Australians will turn to private programs to get the urgent help they need.
Ensuring consistent quality of rehabilitation treatment services will provide some confidence in the value of services for those who pay out of their own pockets for it.
And it will mean that Australians who need help for addiction and seek help for addiction are more likely to get that help – instead of being seen as a business model for unscrupulous providers.