Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 28 May 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 July 2021, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 May. 28]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report, viewed 28 May 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
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Usual accommodation type for client
Clients may receive treatment for their own or someone else’s alcohol or drug use (see Key terminology and glossary). Characteristics of all clients are described below, including client's principal drugs of concern by age group and clients receiving treatment in multiple collection years.
From 2015–16 to 2019–20:
The number of clients treated by publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies increased from 133,895 in 2015–16 to 139,295 in 2019–20. While the number of clients has increased by 4% over this period, when taking into consideration population growth, the rate of clients accessing services has not increased. In 2019–20 the rate was 624 clients per 100,000 population, similar to the rate of 629 five years earlier (Table AODTS Clients.1).
In 2019–20, 131,076 clients received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use and 13,884 received treatment in relation to someone else’s alcohol or drug use. A small proportion (4.1% or 5,665 closed treatment episodes) of clients sought treatment for their own alcohol or drug use as well as for someone else’s alcohol or drug use (Table SCR.30).
The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services (AODTS) collection captures information on treatment services accessed by clients. It does not measure the underlying need for treatment or level of problematic alcohol or drug use in the community. Changes in client numbers may be due to clients’ access to treatment, treatment availability and/or funding available for alcohol and other drug treatment services.
Number of clients
Number of episodes
Rate of clients
(per 100,000 population)
Note: Based on records with a valid statistical linkage key (SLK-581).
(a) In 2015–16 client numbers were imputed due to low response rates for valid SLK-581.
Source: Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set Table SCR.21.
Nationally, an estimated 469,059 Australians have sought AOD treatment, receiving one or more closed treatment episodes since 2015–16 (Figure CLIENT1; Table SCR.28).
Of these clients, over the 5 years to 2019–20:
Source: AIHW Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set Table SCR.28.
Clients who received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use tended to be younger than those who received treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use.
In 2019–20, client characteristics revealed:
The butterfly bar chart shows that most clients seeking treatment for their own drug use were aged 20–39 in 2019–20. This pattern was similar for both male and female clients (both 54%).
Closed treatment episodes from 2010–11 to 2019–20 revealed:
Despite comprising 2.6% of the Australian population aged 10 and over in 2019–20 (ABS 2019a), clients who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander continue to be overrepresented among AODTS clients.
In 2019–20 Indigenous clients accounted for 17% of all clients (an estimated 23,333 clients) treated by publicly funded AOD services. Nationally, this equates to a rate of 3,606 clients per 100,000 Indigenous Australians. Indigenous status was not reported for 5% of AODTS clients (tables SCR.4, SCR.26).
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people were overrepresented in both client groups:
In 2019–20, the main drugs that led Indigenous clients to seek treatment were alcohol, amphetamines, cannabis, heroin and volatile solvents.
AOD treatment services provide treatment for the client’s drug that is of most concern for them, this is referred to as their principal drug of concern.
Different age groups sought treatment for different principal drugs of concern. For clients who received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use in 2019–20:
The stacked vertical bar graph shows that cannabis was the most common principal drug of concern for clients aged 10–19 where 3 in 5 (59%) received treatment. The proportion of clients receving treatment for alcohol as the principal drug of concern increased with age, from 43% of clients aged 40–49 to 58% of clients aged 50–59 and almost 3 in 4 (74%) clients aged 60+. Within clients aged 30–39, 38% of clients had amphetamines as the principal drug of concern, the highest proportion of all age groups.
The age and sex profiles of the clients for the different principal drugs of concern varied. For clients who received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use in 2019–20:
The collection of information about a client’s usual type of accommodation where they lived prior to the start of their episode of AOD treatment enables AOD services to identify clients who may be vulnerable, such as clients from custodial settings or clients at risk of homelessness. This information may help identify clients living in a public place or homeless, supporting the ‘no exit to homelessness’ policy where agencies can only discharge a client to safe, stable housing (Department of Social Services 2020).
Usual accommodation type for the client prior to treatment is reported for selected jurisdictions: New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. As data quality improves additional jurisdictional data will be reported. The following analysis includes 59% of all closed treatment episodes (141,250) (Figure CLIENTS4).
In 2019–20, closed treatment episodes regarding the usual accommodation type for AODTS clients from New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory revealed:
The stacked vertical bar graph shows that independent residential was the most common accommodation type across all selected states, ranging from 67% in Northern Territory to 85% in Western Australia. Other accommodation types varied by state, other than the category other, none/homeless/public place was the most common accommodation type in New South Wales and Western Australia (5.0% and 5.8% respectively), while custodial (12%) was the most common accommodation type in the Northern Territory.
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