Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund

The Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund provides a flexible funding pool designed to assist organisations supporting prevention of substance misuse and other national activities under the National Drug Strategy.

Page last updated: 19 September 2016

The fund has overarching guidelines detailing funding priorities, eligibility, scope and operating parameters, and application processes.

Centre of Excellence for the Clinical Management of Emerging Drugs of Concern

Request for Proposal for Funding for - H1617G005

The Department is inviting applicants to apply for funding under the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund. This is a targeted competitive process with the funding opportunity available to a small number of potential recipients based on the specialised requirements of the activity.

1. Policy Overview

The Australian Government’s approach to dealing with alcohol and other drugs follows the overarching framework set out by the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 (The Strategy). The Strategy is the product of collaboration between Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and extensive community and sector consultation.

The Strategy strives for a balanced, evidence based approach to tackling drug use in the community that incorporates law enforcement, prevention, early intervention and health care strategies. The aim of the Strategy is to build safe, healthy communities by minimising alcohol, tobacco and other drug-related health, social and economic harms among individuals, families and communities. The next iteration of the Strategy is currently being developed. The draft National Drug Strategy 2016-2025 continues to describe a nationally agreed harm minimisation approach to reducing the harm arising from alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. As well as outlining the national commitment to the harm minimisation approach, the Strategy describes priority actions, groups and drug types and summarises effective demand, supply and harm reduction strategies.

Due to public and media concern and sector reports about an increase in crystal methamphetamine (ice) use among rural and regional areas, the Australian Government established a National Ice Taskforce (the Taskforce) in April 2015. The Government asked the Taskforce to provide advice on the development of a National Ice Action Strategy. The Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce (the Report) was presented to the Australian Government in October 2015.

The Report found that ice use in Australia is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted response. Proportionally, Australia uses more methamphetamine than almost any other country, and the number of users continues to grow. Today, evidence suggests there are well over 200,000 users.

In the Report the Taskforce made 38 recommendations across five areas of priority.

  1. The first priority must be supporting families, workers and communities to better respond to people affected by ice.
  2. Efforts to reduce demand for ice through prevention activities must be strengthened.
  3. Ice users need treatment and support services that cater to their needs.
  4. Efforts to disrupt supply must be more coordinated and targeted.
  5. Better data, more research and regular reporting is needed to strengthen Australia’s response and keep it on track.

Recommendation 38 from the Report stated that the Government should fund research into evidence-based treatment options for ice treatment, and research treatment effectiveness for ice as a priority. The Government’s response included the allocation of funding to support clinical research into new treatment options, training of health professionals and evaluating treatment effectiveness. This will be undertaken by establishing a Centre of Excellence for the Clinical Management of Emerging Drugs of Concern (the Centre), which may be a virtual centre based on a consortium. The Centre’s work will include, but not be limited to, the role of innovation and technology in facilitating better access to treatment for clients in need, in particular for rural and remote populations; it will develop and identify appropriate resources to support treatment, training and evaluation; it may be connected to or based in an existing clinical entity (with all its corresponding clinical governance, research and ethics processes) and it may also include activities for remote clinical management such as online or interactive training.

The Department also currently funds three national drug research centres of excellence: the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre; the National Drug Research Institute; and the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction. These centres collectively provide core research to inform drug policy development and assist in improving the effectiveness of treatment programmes.

While the Centre will target ice use in the first instance, it will be established as a clinical focal point that will identify innovative treatment options and responses to emerging illicit drug use, or licit drug misuse, that is prevalent, persistent and harmful.


The Centre is to initially focus on research into ice, and then broaden its scope to include emerging drugs of concern to assist in tackling and treating future trends. This fills a key gap by ensuring Australia has a state-of-the-art clinical research and training facility that targets emerging drugs before they become a national problem and when current information, evidence and responses to an emerging drug of concern may be limited.

The Centre will be required to link with existing research bodies, and integrate with training organizations to avoid duplication and ensure shared learning across complementary projects.

The Centre will be required to support clinical research into new treatment options, training of health professionals and evaluating treatment effectiveness for emerging drugs of concern. Research on emerging drugs of concern may be undertaken in a clinical setting and will advance alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment research and knowledge through training and clinical supervision, support and mentoring (which may be remote); and through the production and dissemination of clinical resources and materials. This will enhance research and capacity building in the AOD sector.

In the first instance, the Centre will target ice use, but it will continue to serve as a clinical focal point for identifying innovative treatment options and responses to new and emerging illicit drug use, and licit drug misuse, that are prevalent, persistent and harmful. The Centre will use research findings that can be applicable to future emerging drug issues to mitigate the burden on the community and health sectors and to improve health outcomes.

Aims and Objectives

The Centre aims to work with experts to update, refresh and disseminate treatment guidelines, guidance products and resources for frontline workers to respond to emerging drugs of concern.

The Centre will be a significant tool in translating research into effective clinical practice for the Government. This will assist in reducing the harms and impacts associated with ice and establishing a strong evidence base for the clinical management of emerging drugs of concern.

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