Drug adviser funding cut

Cathy O'Leary Medical Editor

Former WA Liberal MP Mal Washer has attacked a Federal Government decision to scrap funding to the nation's peak body in the alcohol and drugs sector, a move which sent the group into voluntary administration.

He said the decision to cut funding for the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia, which he chaired, was disappointing and short-sighted and would affect efforts to reduce harm from alcohol, including foetal alcohol syndrome disorder.

The council said its funding had been axed by Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash this week, prompting an emergency meeting at which all directors agreed to put the organisation into voluntary administration. The body, set up in 1966, has received most of its funding from the Department of Health and Ageing.

Dr Washer said he was shocked by the move, especially as it came into effect immediately, forcing the ADCA to appoint an administrator.

"The Government's decision is a devastating blow to the sector and undermines years of work to minimise alcohol and other drug-related harm across the Australian community," he said.

"It effectively erases decades of corporate knowledge and leaves the sector without representation at a national level."

ADCA patron Professor Ian Webster claimed it was the latest casualty in the coalition's austerity drive.

"In 46 years, this is the only government that has decided it can do without ADCA's advice," he said.