Whole of Strategy Evaluation of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy: Future Directions for the PSS 2013

Aim of the publication

The final report, completed in January 2013, provides a high-level strategic review of the implementation of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy (PSS) since its inception and provides guidance on the future management and structure of the PSS.   

The evaluation examines the management and implementation of the PSS Eight Point Plan to control petrol sniffing, the extent to which it has been coordinated at a regional/community level, and its impact at a national level.  The evaluation uses case studies in the East Kimberley and Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia to investigate how well components of the PSS interact at specific locations, whether it is effective and sustainable at a regional level and how effective the partnership approach is at the whole of government level.  These regions were chosen as case studies because of their distinctly different histories and responses to petrol sniffing.

Target audience

The report was commissioned by FaHCSIA on behalf of the PSS Senior Executive Service Steering Committee, which oversees the continued development and implementation of the PSS. The qualitative evidence was prepared with assistance from service providers and Australian and state government staff located in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The report is for policy makers, organisations and service providers who support young people, as well as interested stakeholders.

Content of the publication

The evaluation found that the PSS has achieved a dramatic reduction in the prevalence of petrol sniffing across much of remote Australia, particularly through the roll out of low aromatic fuel and the provision of targeted youth diversionary services.  It also found that there was overwhelming support for the PSS to continue as a national strategy and highlighted a number of benefits from having the PSS including:

  • Providing a shared framework for managing the response to petrol sniffing
  • Being a focal point for investment by agencies and leveraging from other programs to address sniffing related issues
  • Reflecting the complex nature of petrol sniffing, and
  • Being a visible demonstration of sustained government action on petrol sniffing.

The evaluation also notes that a secondary impact of the PSS has been to recognise and validate the need for comprehensive and sustainable remote youth programs.


In mid-2010 the Government tabled its combined response to the Senate Community Affairs Committee report Grasping the opportunity of Opal: Assessing the impact of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy and its earlier 2006 companion report Beyond petrol sniffing: Renewing hope for Indigenous communities.


FaHCSIA commissioned a number of reports in response to recommendations of the Senate Committee Reports. These include:

This report identifies several opportunities for enabling the Central Australian Petrol Sniffing Unit Review (CAPSSU) to draw on the full range of resources available in the community, in achieving a more holistic implementation of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy including: 

    • addressing the barriers to cooperation and collaboration, to reaffirm CAPSSU’s role as the body with oversight of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy in the Northern Territory  and across state and territory borders
    • better aligning CAPSSU’s work with parallel activities within the broader volatile substances area
    • strengthening the governance arrangements and program frameworks within CAPSSU, to provide greater transparency, program logic and accountability to the work of the unit.
  • Approved Response to Central Australian Petrol Sniffing Strategy Unit Review Report

FaHCSIA prepared an approved response to the CAPSSU Review Report accepting the thrust of its recommendations and activity profiled to respond to them.

Shaw Report – Research into Legislation Relating to Petrol Sniffing (responds to Recommendations 9 and 10 of the 2006 Report).
This research finds that while most stakeholders are satisfied with the legislative tools currently at their disposal, there are opportunities for improved coordination of service delivery, including rehabilitation services. The report does not support uniform legislation at this stage. An Executive Summary only of this report is available because of the detailed sensitive community information it contains.

CIRCA Report – Communications Research Project (responds to Recommendation 2 of the 2009 Report).
This preliminary communications research focussed on Central Australia and the Kimberley region. Its findings confirm the themes of the academic literature and point to the importance of involving local people in the design of Petrol Sniffing Strategy-related communications material. These findings will inform ongoing communications work in the Petrol Sniffing Strategy partner agencies, including FaHCSIA and the Department of Health and Ageing.


Further information

Content Updated: 16 October 2013