MPs stoush over drug rehab
$87 million plan is “city centric”, Nationals claim
NATIONALS MPs have expressed disappointment that northern Victoria was overlooked in the allocation of additional residential rehabilitation beds announced recently by the State Government.
Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley) joined Steph Ryan (MLA, Euroa) criticising the government’s $87 million Drug Rehabilitation Plan which included an initial two year trial of a medically supervised injecting room at the North Richmond Community Health Centre.
Ms Ryan said the announcement ignored the needs of resi- dents in northern Victoria, with not a single extra bed funded north of Heidelberg.
“Labor has again overlooked successful local programs like that run by Odyssey House in Molyullah, which has a waiting list of several months,” she said.
“Some facilities in northern Victoria have reported wait lists of up to a year.”
Mr McCurdy said while any investment in residential rehab beds was a positive step forward, country Victorians were ham- pered by having to travel long distances to access treatment.
“We have a chronic shortage of rehab beds in country Victoria compared with NSW,” Mr McCurdy said.
“It is disappointing Labor has not listened to our region which has been actively calling for greater investment in treatment options in North East Victoria.”
But Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) hit back at the claims saying she would not take advice from Liberals and Nation- als on helping support people combating addiction.
“The sad reality is that when the National Party was in government they managed to increase rehab beds by two, yes two beds in their whole term,” Ms Symes told the Wangaratta Chronicle.
“It is clear that the National Party is confused and don’t understand the difference between bed allocations and that of new facilities which are yet to be announced.
“We’re investing an extra $87 million and builds on the work of the Ice Action Plan to save lives, treat users, keep our streets safe, and crack down on dealers.
“As part of this plan we will also expand treatment, boost training and invest in 100 more residential rehab beds – doubling the number of rehab beds in Victoria since we came to government.
“These extra beds will mean 400 more Victorians each year will get the help they need to beat their addiction and create long-lasting change in their lives; the beds are expected to open by March 2018.
“I have this week again spoken to Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, and pushed Wangaratta’s case for a new facility.
“There is a clear process to go through and part of that is building the case for Wangaratta which I am doing.
“As the minister has said this decision will be based on key criteria which includes levels of community need, current treatment access and planning considerations and I believe Wangaratta meets that criteria.”