MPs stoush over drug re­hab

$87 mil­lion plan is “city cen­tric”, Na­tion­als claim

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS -

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.”

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