Policy and Engagement

October 2021 - MARC submission to the Public Consultation for the Post-market Review of Opiate Dependence Treatment Program Medicines

In collaboration with Turning Point, MARC members made a submission to the Public Consultation for the Post-market Review of Opiate Dependence Treatment Program (ODTP) Medicines. In the submission to the Post-market review, MARC members outlined several recommendations to ensure better access to ODT:

  • Ensure a wide range of evidence-based ODT medicines are available
  • Normalise treatment of opioid use disorder in primary care, with appropriate remuneration, and support by specialist services for referral as required.
  • Use pharmacists and nurse practitioners to their full scope of practice to build workforce capacity.
  • Ensure addiction medicine specialists are situated within all major hospitals.
  • Increase the accessibility of ODTP through new models of service delivery, including those developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that permit greater flexibility in treatment.
  • Facilitate access to long-acting injectable buprenorphine as a means of overcoming barriers to treatment, particularly in regional and rural areas.
  • Subsidise dispensing and administration fees to reduce the financial burden of treatment on consumers.
  • Form a working group to determine the best mechanism by which ODT can be funded through the PBS, considering the options with S85 and S100 listing in addition to MBS items for all healthcare providers that are involved in service delivery.

You can view the full submission here.

June 2021 -  MARC submission to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care - National Opioid Analgesic Stewardship Program

In collaboration with Peninsula Health and the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, MARC members made a submission to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to inform the development of the National Opioid Analgesic Stewardship Program. The submission was informed by collaborative work between MARC and Peninsula Health on Opioid stewardship and work by CMUS PhD Candidate Laura Dowd and Professor Simon Bell, who have looked at opioid stewardship in long-term care facilities.

The submission provided feedback on a discussion paper drafted to support public consultation on the use of opioid analgesics in emergency departments, perioperative and surgical services. The Commission is also interested in learning more about education and training for prescribers of opioid analgesics. Read the full discussion paper here.

May 2021 - Rethinking Addiction in Australia event

On Thursday, 6 May the Rethink Addiction campaign hosted its sell-out event ‘Rethinking Addiction in Australia’ at Federation Square, the first major event for the campaign since its inception in November last year.

Almost 300 people came along to hear from an inspiring group of panellists, including former AFL footballer Dayne Beams, Sober in the Country CEO, Shanna Whan, Addicted Australia producer, Jacob Hickey, and Turning Point Executive Clinical Director, Professor Dan Lubman AM. It was a powerful and honest discussion led by the formidable Sally Rugg, Executive Director of Change.org, who moderated the event.

Jacob Hickey introduced clips from the Addicted Australia series, which looked back at some of the most compelling moments from the documentary and steered the conversation between panel members on the making of the series, the stereotypes and misconceptions of addiction, the value of peer support, and the need for Australia to Rethink Addiction.

Reflecting on the Addicted Australia series and this own personal struggles with addiction and the impact that had on his family Dayne Beams said,

“My sister sent me a message after the series and said to me she felt like she could understand more of what I was going through, and that was comforting to know.”

Shanna Whan, who also has a lived experience of addiction, highlighted the difficulties for those living in rural and regional areas.

“Unfortunately we are dragging our heels in the bush, not because we are intentionally trying to be less interested, we are just so isolated. We live in permanent iso.”

Sober in the Country, one of the many organisations partnering with the Rethink Addiction campaign, is working to change the dialogue around alcohol and get the message out there to those living in the bush.

Also in attendance were several other Rethink Addiction campaign partner organisations, a list that has now grown to over 40. Sally outlined to the audience the four primary asks of the campaign, including:

  1. That addiction is established as a national priority.
  2. That a summit be convened federally for meaningful knowledge exchange between addiction experts and policy makers.
  3. For a national plan and roadmap to be drafted to address addiction.
  4. For the establishment of a dedicated addiction research fund.

The end of the evening concluded with Prof Lubman announcing that one of those asks was already well on its way to being achieved.

“We started this campaign because the system is broken. We are pleased to announce the first national summit of addiction will be in Canberra in August. It’s a great opportunity to make some noise and start a national conversation,” he said.

If you missed it you can watch the video of the event.

April  2021 - MARC presents at the Inquiry into use of Cannabis in Victoria

MARC Director, Professor Dan Lubman AM, and MARC member, Dr Christine Grove, last week welcomed the opportunity to present the joint submission by MARC and Turning Point to the ‘Inquiry into use of Cannabis in Victoria’.

Dan and Christine spoke extensively to the committee on the submission, which provided recommendations on achieving outcomes to implement health education campaigns and programs to ensure children and young people are aware of the harms of drug use, in particular cannabis use, and to assess the health, mental health, and social impacts of cannabis use on people who use cannabis, their families and carers.

March 2021 - Release of the Royal Commission’s final report into Victoria’s mental health system

Dr Melissa Petrakis with Tandem staff, fellow Board member Katrina Clarke of Monash Health, and The Hon Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria).

Tuesday 2nd March was a momentous day for mental health in Victoria with the final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System handed down at a special sitting of the Victorian Parliament at the Royal Exhibition Building. The final report outlined 65 recommendations, with nine recommendations from the interim report.

MARC welcomes all of the recommendations, including those that support improving outcomes for people living with mental illness and substance use or addiction. Of the recommendations is the provision for dedicated research, education and training, and a priority to increase the number of addiction specialists in Victoria.

Following the tabling of the report, Premier Daniel Andrews said, "The cost of our neglect is enormous. We need to build a new system from the ground up. The time to act has come."

Professor Dan Lubman AM attended the sitting in his capacity as Executive Clinical Director, Turning Point, one of many organisations who provided a written submission to the Commission. Professor Lubman said it was wonderful to see the Government's commitment to deliver on all of the recommendations outlined in the report, and was excited for what can be achieved together moving forward.

MARC member, Dr Melissa Petrakis, was also in attendance in her capacity as Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work, and Tandem Board Chair, representing family members and carers across Victoria, having been an expert witness to the Commission last year.

Melissa noted: "It was important to hear both sides of parliament offer bipartisan commitment to invest in mental health. Their work is to not just fill in potholes but, as Royal Commission Chair Penny Armytage AM attested, to build a new road. A lived experience led design of that road is the next step for genuine reform."

September 2019 – Submission to the inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019

MARC members contributed a submission to the inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment on the drug testing of welfare recipients. In the submission to the inquiry, MARC members outlined three key reason they did not support the bill:

  • There is no evidence that this is an effective strategy to increase employment or reduce drug use
  • There is a complete absence of scientific rigour to the proposal ‘trial’
  • The ‘trial’ is highly likely to increase disadvantage and suffering amongst the most vulnerable members of our community

You can view the full submission here.

Feb 2019 - Comments to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) - Intranasal Naloxone (Nyxoid)

MARC Director, Prof Dan Lubman, and MARC Deputy Director, A/Prof Suzanne Nielsen, provided expert advice on the benefits of adding Intranasal Naloxone (Nyoid) to the list of medications subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). In particular, A/Prof Nielsen described the benefits of non-injectable naloxone formulations such as Nyxoid being readily available to members of the community not experienced with using injectable formulas.

Following the submission of their expert commentary, Nyxoid was added to the PBS on 1 November 2019.