Community Drug Action Teams: Giving the NSW public a voice


​It's easy to feel helpless when we hear about all the alcohol and other drug problems facing our society and within our communities. But did you know there are tools available for you to make a difference?

The good news is that every community member has a real opportunity to contribute in reducing alcohol and other drugs (AOD) harms in their local area through joining a Community Drug Action Team (CDAT).

What is a CDAT?

CDATs are made up of passionate and dedicated volunteers who love their local area and want the best for their community. Across NSW CDATs are leading AOD prevention projects in their communities.

Since their inception in 1999, CDATs have led thousands of community activities to engage young people, parents and the local community in preventing alcohol and other drug-related harms. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) supports the CDATs through the Community Engagement and Action Program (CEAP) funded by NSW Health.

Why are CDATs important?

Community members regularly see first-hand the harm that AOD misuse can cause in their local area, but counting the visible harms only scratches the surface. There are more hidden harms and costs that aren't as well known, or rarely considered.

For example, the NSW Auditor-General estimates the societal cost of alcohol misuse, in NSW alone, is $3.87 billion a year (or over $1,500 per household).

Australian and International research shows that AOD is linked to:

  • family and domestic violence
  • assault
  • fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • drink driving
  • accidents and injuries
  • anti-social behaviour
  • suicide

There is also a considerable cost to and loss of public amenity through:

  • use of police resources
  • use of emergency department resources
  • ambulance callouts
  • public and private property damage
  • litter and public nuisance

However, training and resources provided through CDATs allow people to share skills and AOD knowledge across and beyond the community – contributing to positive change.

Community initiatives can make communities stronger, healthier and better places to live. CDATs provide a unique platform and opportunity for collaborative action by different agencies and groups.

Regulate the sale of alcohol near you

Studies show that one way to reduce alcohol related harm is to regulate the sale of alcohol. Reducing hours during which on-premise alcohol outlets can sell late at night can substantially reduce rates of alcohol-related violence.

Community voices are often missing in the decision-making process for regulating the availability of alcohol. Barriers such as the complexity of the licensing system, being time and resource poor, or not understanding the true level of cost and harm from alcohol, all prevent the community from being actively involved.

However, a step-by-step toolkit developed by NSW Health and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), can help communities have a say in the decision-making process for regulating the availability of alcohol.

Access the ADF toolkit.

Who can join a CDAT?

Anyone concerned about drug and alcohol issues can join their local CDAT. CDATs typically involve a diverse range of people, all of whom share a commitment to reducing harms from drugs and alcohol.

Some members may have personal experience of problem alcohol or drug use, and being involved in a CDAT is their way of helping to prevent similar problems emerging for others. A broad range of community members and organisations plus a good balance between voluntary and professional involvement makes a CDAT stronger and more effective, and provides it with skills, talents and resources.

Together we can make a difference. Your local CDAT needs you! Find out how to become a CDAT member.

Do you know the facts about drugs and alcohol? Test your knowledge by visiting The Quiz Room.

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