Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for affording me the opportunity to address you this afternoon.
Let me start by congratulating all the elected committee members. I commend you for availing yourselves and wish you well with your plans in the year ahead.
Then, to the recently appointed director for the centre, Ashley Potts, congratulations on your appointment. In a very short space of time, you have demonstrated a passion and commitment to ensuring you are aligned with industry role players in the pursuit of best practice. I wish you only the best in this most challenging and equally rewarding position. I also have to make mention of your predecessor, Mr Grant Jardine, who has served this centre for many years. You have left a legacy and big shoes to fill.
The Western Cape Government is committed to working with our partners to address harmful drug and alcohol use and as such we have increased our budget by nearly 90% in the past three years, from R42 million in 2009 to R77 million this financial year (also up by 14% from the previous year).
I cannot stress enough the importance of education and awareness. Allow me to share with you just some of our interventions in this regard.
The Department of Social Development and the Department of the Premier have established a drug and alcohol information website to serve the general public, as many young people especially, are active online users: http://druginfo.westerncape.gov.za
A full geographic directory of substance abuse services in each district of the province has also been completed in partnership between the Department of the Premier and Department of Social Development, and is being distributed to around 30 000 stakeholders, including police, magistrates, prosecutors, school principals, clinics etc.
The Drug Education has been mainstreamed into Life Orientation teaching material for Grade 11, which has been distributed by the WCED to all schools for the 2012 academic year.
The Provincial Liquor Act has come into effect and the Liquor Board members have been appointed (under the Department of Economic Development and Tourism).
The Department of Health’s six-part television series on alcohol-related harms (called Booza TV) has been distributed on DVD to stakeholders across the province.
It cannot just stop there though. We are actively involved in Early/Brief Interventions.
The Department of Social Development has increased its provision for brief intervention services during the current financial year from 2 400 in 2010/2011 to 2 580 in 2011/2012 and to 4 000 in 2012/2013.
The Western Cape Education Department has introduced drug testing in its schools through the new Provincial Education Act. Drug testing is applied on a "reasonable suspicion" basis in the province’s schools, and teachers in over 50 high-risk school were trained in 2011 in how to administer the tests and deal with learners that test positive. The Provincial Education Department’s Safe Schools call centre and the social workers and educational psychologists of the department’s "Specialised Support Services" provide further assistance and support to schools in this regard.
That brings us to treatment services. A huge part of our budget goes down this road.
The number of subsidised spaces in drug treatment programmes (including residential and outpatient treatment) has increased from 3 700 spaces for 2009/10 to 4 500 for 2011/12 to 5 050 for 2012/13.
DSD introduced urine testing as a requirement for all drug treatment programmes funded by the department to ensure proper monitoring of patient progress through these programmes.
You know only too well that the journey does not end with treatment. It is important to note the value of good support and aftercare.
The Department of Social Development is providing increased addiction recovery/stepped-down aftercare services. We have moved from only 500 patients receiving aftercare and recovery services in 2009/10 to 3 500 in 2012/13.
That gives you an overview of where this government is deploying its resources in terms of substance abuse.
We look forward to our continued relationship with the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre. I always say that the NGOs are our partners. A government alone cannot solve all the problems and serve all the people. We rely on our partners like you to extend services to vulnerable communities.
You are all fired up now with renewed vigour and enthusiasm to tackle the challenges going forward. You have our support and I wish you only the best.
I thank you.