Drugs: Call on councils to do more

Prof Steve Allsop says he has always been interested in public health.Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d446585
Prof Steve Allsop says he has always been interested in public health.Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d446585

AN award-winning drug and alcohol researcher says the role of local government in preventing and treating drug and alcohol-related issues is underestimated.

National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) director Steve Allsop said that local governments needed to have more of a voice and be included in the issue.

“Local governments are impacted by decisions made at a State and Federal level but they are underutilised resources,” Dr Allsop said.

“It’s about ensuring local governments are involved in responses to drug problems, both prevention and service planning.

“There are excellent examples of good practice from around the country in local government around liquor licensing, street planning, transport decisions, which can all reduce harm.”

Dr Allsop, who works at the Shenton Park Curtin University campus, is a recipient of the national Senior Scientist Award from the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) for outstanding contribution to the field.

He said local government played a role in the availability of alcohol, the clean-up and design of the environment to lower the risk of alcohol and drug-related harm.

After starting work volunteering at a drug overdose service in the UK at 17, Dr Allsop said his work gave him huge personal satisfaction.

“It matters because people affected by drug and alcohol use are often discriminated against and marginalised,” he said.

“I’ve always been interested in public health and this is a huge public health issue.”

Dr Allsop, who is also deputy chair of the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs, contributed to policy development at the United Nations and was involved in developing a national amphetamine strategy.