AOD treatment variation by remoteness areas
Nationally, between 2018–19 and 2021–22, there were notable changes in AOD treatment types delivered within remoteness areas, particularly AOD treatment requiring clients to attend tailored physical settings.
Remoteness area of treatment episodes was based on the location of the treatment service (see technical notes for further information).
Figure COVID REMOTENESS 1: Treatment episodes, by main treatment type and remoteness area, quarterly data, 2018–19 to 2021–22
The line graph shows the number of episodes with counselling as the main treatment type, by remoteness area. Most episodes were provided in Major cities across the period July–September 2018 to April–June 2021. The number of counselling episodes in Major cities increased from 13,870 in January–March 2020 (pre-COVID) to 14,882 in April–June 2020 (Wave 1) and 16,122 in July–September 2020 (Wave 2). Episodes then decreased 14,695 in April–June 2020 (Wave 3), decreasing further to 13,019 episodes in Apr-Jun 2022. A filter allows the user to view data for each main treatment type.
Main treatment across remoteness areas
Changes in trends for main treatment delivered within remoteness areas are likely to be associated with the main waves of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- for Counselling:
- provided in Major cities and Inner regional areas, episodes increased from Apr–Sep 2020, coinciding with the first and second waves of the pandemic
- these increases continued into Oct–Dec 2020 before decreasing to pre-pandemic levels in Jan-Jun 2022
- decreases in episodes from Jan 2021 indicates additional constraints to service delivery, such as, impacts on the workforce with service staff illness, vacancies, or turnover.
- for Rehabilitation:
- there was a drop in treatment episodes provided in all remoteness areas in wave one and wave two (Apr–Dec 2020). Since then, treatment episodes have increased, although the magnitude of the initial decrease and rate of the subsequent increase differs in each remoteness area
- for example, treatment episodes provided Major cities saw sharp decreases at the beginning of each COVID wave (particularly from Jan–Jun 2020 and Apr–Jun 2021)
- treatment episodes remained low from Oct 2020 to Jun 2022 in Major cities and as at Apr–Jun 2022, had not returned to pre-pandemic levels. This decrease reflects the continuation of health regulations and localised lockdown measures limiting bed capacity for services.
Treatment delivery settings across remoteness areas
Some AOD treatment delivery settings in remoteness locations were impacted more than others during the onset of COVID-19 and associated public health measures.
Figure COVID REMOTENESS 2: Treatment episodes, by treatment delivery setting and remoteness area, quarterly data, 2018–19 to 2021–22
The line graph shows that most treatment episodes provided in non-residential treatment settings occurred in Major cities across the period June–September 2018 to April–June 2021. The number of episodes provided in non-residential settings in Major cities overall decreased from 26,113 in January–March 2020 to 25,228 in April–June 2020 (Wave 1), then increased in Waves 2 and 3 (28,154 in July–September 2020 and 27,307 in April–June 2021, respectively). Episodes decreased to 26,048 in Oct-Dec 2021 (Wave 4) and 24,390 in Apr-Jun 2022. A filter allows the user to view data for each treatment delivery setting.
Changes observed in AOD treatment settings within remoteness areas include:
- Residential treatment settings:
- located in Major cities were most impacted, with a sharp decrease in treatment episodes between Jan–Jun 2020 coinciding with the first wave of the pandemic
- treatment episodes also decreased in Major cities and Inner regional areas from Apr–Dec 2021, following waves three and four of the pandemic
- bed-based residential units were operating at reduced capacity between 2020 and 2022 in some states and territories to ensure social distancing guidelines were met.
- for Outreach settings:
- treatment episodes provided in Major cities, Inner regional and Outer regional areas showed notable decreases in Apr–Jun 2020, coinciding with the first wave of the pandemic
- this decrease continued from Jul 2020 to Jun 2022, and closed treatment episodes have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels as at June 2022
- most services providing in-person visits discontinued face-to-face contact with clients, moving to telehealth options (Figure COVID REMOTENESS 2, Table COVID.2).
- Home settings:
- located in Major cities and Inner regional areas showed the greatest increases in Apr–Jun 2020 compared with previous time periods, coinciding with the first wave of the pandemic. Major cities experienced another large increase in episodes provided from Jul–Sept 2021, just after the third wave of the pandemic
- this reflects services adapting for example, to telehealth services located in Major cities and Inner regional areas. Episodes decreased between Dec 2020 and Jun 2022 but remain higher than pre-pandemic episodes (Figure COVID REMOTENESS 2, tables COVID.12–COVID.20).