Reducing alcohol and other drug related harm among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: why the evidence is not enough
The devastating impact of alcohol and other drugs (aod) on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is well known. There is good evidence for the effectiveness of interventions, which can reduce this harm. This includes broad strategies to address the underlying social determinants of that harm and specific strategies targeting alcohol and other drug use itself. This evidence has been incorporated into various national and state and territory plans to reduce the problem. Despite this, the evidence demonstrates that there has been little change in the prevalence of harmful levels of aod use and its consequences when compared to the non-Indigenous population. Furthermore, we have good evidence for why there has been a failure to significantly reduce aod-related harm and evidence for what needs to be done to make prevention and treatment more effective. What this points to is the fact that – despite calls for evidence based policy and practice – evidence alone is not enough. What is needed to ‘close the gap’ is a serious, well-resourced effort by government to implement that evidence and for all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to hold them to account.