Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Funding boost to tackle Indigenous substance abuse in Central Australia

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough today announced that $785,000 would be provided to strengthen the capacity of the Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk (SAID) in Alice Springs.

This funding is in addition to $500,000 provided to set up SAID and a further $312,000 for a drug detector dog unit announced last month.

"SAID was established to tackle the trafficking and use of illicit substances in Central Australia’s Indigenous communities. It has conducted joint policing operations in the cross-border region which have included enforcement activities, gathering intelligence and working with local police," Mr Brough said.

"Local communities have been educated by SAID members about the perils and consequences of drug use.

"These education and awareness programs have led to an improved flow of information from communities and more than 200 information reports have been compiled."

Mr Brough said that since SAID commenced in January, more than 50 people have been arrested or summonsed with 180 charges laid. Charges include possession and/or supply of drugs.

More than 12 search warrants have been executed, 1248 grams of cannabis seized, as well as 56 grams of amphetamines, 38 grams of LSD and 1.5 grams of ecstasy. 120 litres of alcohol and 7 litres of petrol were also seized from more than 130 substance abusers. Police have confiscated two cars and a large amount of cash.

"The Australian Government is prepared to invest in initiatives that work. While law and order is a matter for State and Territory governments, federal funding will allow SAID to continue operations into 2007, and improve its capacity to target the illegal supply of petrol, alcohol and illicit drugs into the cross-border region," Mr Brough said.