In 1998, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services (now the Australian Government Department of Health) to begin a national trial of the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS), following previous employment of the methodology in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. The intention of the IDRS was to provide a coordinated approach to the monitoring of data associated with the use of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis, in order that this information could act as an early warning indicator of the availability and use of drugs in these categories.
In 1999, the Tasmanian component of the national IDRS gathered information on drug trends using two methods: key expert (KE) interviews with professionals working in drug-related fields; and an examination of existing indicators. For the 2000-2005 IDRS, funding was provided by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF) to expand this methodology and include a survey of people who regularly inject illicit drugs, in addition to the methods employed previously. Since this time, funding for this methodology has been provided by the Australian Government under the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund.