National Drug User Organisation Welcomes Day Dedicated to Consumers

“National Drug User Organisation Welcomes Day Dedicated to Consumers”

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) the national organisation representing illicit drug users across Australia would like to congratulate all those involved in the Drug Action Week for including for the first time a day dedicated to recognising and valuing consumers.

AIVL’s Executive Officer Ms. Annie Madden said, “Today is a very important day for consumers. Too often the voices of consumers are ignored and this dedicated “Consumers and Carers Day” brings some much needed acknowledgment to the critical role that consumers play within the sector”.

AIVL is concerned that consumer advocacy and involvement is the exception rather than the rule in most drug treatment services. Consumers have a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can contribute to an increase in the quality and outcomes of drug treatment and other related services.

Ms. Madden continued, “Partnerships with affected communities have been at the heart of Australia’s successful responses to HIV and hepatitis C however, this has not been the case in relation to illicit drugs. By and large, people who use drugs are not valued in relation to the contribution they can make and in some cases we are seen as not even capable of contributing.”

Unlike most other areas of health service delivery, recent research studies have shown that very few drug treatment services have formal mechanisms in place to hear the views of their consumers or service users. Consumer participation in the planning and delivery of health services is well recognised as a highly effective way to improve both the targeting and quality of service provision.

The lack of consumer input into the planning and delivery of drug treatment services regularly results in difficult and poor treatment experiences particularly for vulnerable and highly marginalised clients. Currently there are too few pharmacotherapies made available to ensure a good treatment match for those seeking treatment and the structure of the programs ensure that it is near impossible for people to achieve their personal goals through treatment programs.

Ms. Madden concluded, “I hope that today assists us to reduce the gap that exists between services, governments, the community and people who use illicit drugs. As consumers of drug treatment and other health services people who use illicit drugs have a unique viewpoint to contribute. We know what it is like to be on the receiving end of poor treatment services and most importantly we know what we need and what will work for us”.

For further comment please contact Ms. Annie Madden, Executive Officer – 02 6279 1600