Rehab centre to save lives
WANGARATTA’S much anticipated drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation facility – the first of its kind funded by the State Government in the region – will be located at the former Ovens College site in Greta Road.
Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley made the announcement in Wangaratta on Wednesday afternoon before members of the Local Drug Action Team and North East Family Support (Drugs and Alcohol), Mayor Ken Clarke and senior council staff
“We know people with a serious addiction recover faster when they can access treatment in their own community,” Mr Foley said.
“This new facility means people in North East Victoria will get the help they need, close to their homes and existing support networks.
“These residential rehab facilities provide a structured, therapeutic and safe environment for people to address issues related to their alcohol and other drug use so they get back on track and back into their communities.”
He said while alcohol remains the primary drug of concern and causes the highest number of drugrelated ambulance call-outs in Victoria each year, rural and regional Victoria has faced increased challenges as availability and use of ice grows.
“More than 807 people who needed treatment for alcohol or drug abuse in the last 12 months had to go elsewhere,” Mr Foley said.
“Twelve of those people lost their lives.
“The system failed them and the government knew that treatment facilities like this had to be more equitably shared around the state.
“This is going to save lives,” he said.
Mr Foley praised the LDAT members, the family support group, local health services and the rural city for their roles in mobilising the community to understand the importance of treatment in overcoming the tide of drug and alcohol abuse.
He also praised Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) who he said “goes out of her way” to put the best interests of North East Victoria before state parliament, her party colleagues and the individual ministers.
“This is the type of support we look for from a community when choosing the best location for such a facility,” Mr Foley said.
“It makes a pleasant difference to be in a community that understands that this issue touches everyone.”
Ms Symes, who had long advocated for the facility to be located in Wangaratta, said it was a proud day for all involved.
“I have been engaging with many families across the North East on this issue and now not only Wangaratta people but those from Wodonga, Shepparton and Benalla can access this facility,” she said.
Wangaratta is one of four new residential rehabilitation facilities to be built in regional areas at a cost of around $40 million.
The Victorian budget 2018/19 invested a record $259.9 million in AOD services and another $87 million in the Drug Rehabilitation Plan released last year to help save Victorian lives and help people to get access to treatment when they need it, close to home.
This has enabled the State Government to more than double the number of residential rehab beds in Victoria – from 208 beds in 2014–15 to 450 beds.
Residents will receive individual and group counselling and life skills, with a focus on supporting them to reintegrate into community living.
Construction of the new Wangaratta facility is expected to commence in 2019, with the services operational in the latter half of 2020-21.
If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or drug use, call 1800 888 236 – for information and support to access treatment.
This is going to save lives. - MINISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH, MARTIN FOLEY
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Key players in the establishment of the new residential rehabiliation facility celebrate the announcement (from left) Maryanne Donellan (Gateway Health), David Kidd (NHW), Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria), Martin Foley (Minister for Mental Health), Antonella Smith (North East Family Support -Drugs and Alcohol), Kerry Strauch (acting CEO The Centre), Jackie Eckert (DHHS), Jackie Thompson (Dept of Justice) and Mayor Ken Clarke.