Re­hab cen­tre to save lives

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SHANE DOUTHIE sd­outhie@ ne­me­

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

PHOTO: Shane Douthie

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.

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