Strategic Priority 2 Enhance treatment and support systems

Despite investment and other measures to increase and sustain capacity, Queensland’s current alcohol and other drug treatment system is unable to fully meet demand. There is a need to build the capacity of services and support systems to meet community expectations of service availability.

Ensuring the sustainability of a culturally-capable, skilled and well-equipped alcohol and other drug workforce is critical.

Improved coordination, alignment and linkage of existing data sets will enable development of a comprehensive understanding of service gaps and the effectiveness of interventions. This requires cross-sectoral actions broader than Queensland Health state-funded alcohol and other drug services.

The service system needs to develop the workforce required to meet the state’s needs, particularly in regional and remote areas. Workforce planning must consider improved education, job creation, recruitment, job security, retention, career pathways, and the development and maintenance of professional skills.

Efforts to enhance early intervention and treatment support should be prioritised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, young people, families and carers.

The evidence is clear—treatment works.

However, it can be challenging to access treatment because the right type of treatment may not be available at the right place, at the right time. Individuals and families may also fear stigma and discrimination about accessing services. Service accessibility can be improved with statewide referral and triage services via telehealth and online.

Trauma-informed responses

People who have experienced trauma are more likely to develop mental illness, problematic alcohol and other drug use and physical health issues. A traumatic experience does not mean a person will develop problems with alcohol and other drugs, but it can increase the risk.

This increased risk is why all workforces engaging with people with problematic alcohol and other drug use should be capable of providing a trauma-informed response.

Priority actions

Enhance treatment and support systems to reduce harm and improve outcomes.



Provide appropriate training and support to the alcohol and other drug specialist workforce and supporting workforces in other sectors to enable them to effectively respond to problematic alcohol and other drug use, including managing complexity, by:

  • working with education providers to enhance course offerings and improve evidence-based alcohol and other drug content in the tertiary curriculum for medical, allied health, justice, human services and nursing students to improve knowledge and skills and reduce misconceptions

  • promoting the alcohol and other drug sector as a worthwhile career, on par with other health
    professions, to reduce workforce stigma and improve recruitment and retention throughout the system

  • growing the harm-reduction workforce to support the provision of harm reduction service types
    such as primary and secondary needle and syringe programs and diversionary centres

  • providing access to trauma-informed care training across sectors, including strategies to help manage secondary—or vicarious—trauma.



Build alcohol and other drug workforce sustainability by working with commissioning bodies to improve aspects of service-level funding arrangements such as duration and remuneration, and strengthen joint planning at all levels, including between state and Australian Government agencies.




Strengthen treatment and support system responses across the continuum of intervention by:

  • improving capacity and linkages across existing services, such as maternity, early childhood,
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations, education, justice, employment and housing, to increase proactive early intervention with individuals, families and communities experiencing vulnerability

  • establish diversionary models and programs that take a cross-sectoral approach and are used at the first indication of risk, considering the needs of children, families and people who have
    experienced trauma

  • creating rural workforce incentives around renumeration and employment conditions.



Ensure individuals with complex and high-level needs have access to responsive, timely and intensive mental health and alcohol and other drug services—the right treatment at the right place and the right time.

  • Ensure treatment and support options are accessible to all people with disability including people with physical, cognitive, sensory and psychosocial disability.



Improve alcohol and other drug treatment options to people involved in the criminal justice system.



Implement other harm reduction measures and initiatives to improve health and wellbeing in prison health services and corrective services.



Build workforce capacity to recognise and respond to underlying vulnerabilities that could contribute to problematic alcohol and other drug use by clients.