Royal commission needs to include drugs, alcohol
Independent candidate for Ovens Valley Tammy Atkins has called on the proposed Mental Health Royal Commission to include drug and alcohol services.
Ms Atkins supports the promise to hold a royal commission into mental health and said problematic drug use was as much a health issue as it was a law and order one and needed to be included.
‘‘I know from my time working with Wangaratta’s local drug action team that people with a mental illness experience drug problems at far higher rates than the general community,’’ she said.
‘‘When people in our community reach out for mental health or drugrelated support, we need to be able to act quickly, not make them jump through hoops, figuratively speaking.
‘‘It beggars belief that right now there is little connection between Victorian alcohol and other drug and mental health services. They’re funded separately and the systems operate independently of each other.
‘‘Mental health professionals I have spoken to tell me that Victorian mental health services, once the leader in Australia, are now close to the worst.
‘‘Our population has grown but there has been no corresponding growth in the size of services. Victoria has the dubious distinction of having the lowest per capita expenditure on mental health in the country, with access to services at 39 per cent below the national average.
‘‘The way we provide drug and alcohol services is too important an issue to be neglected any further, that’s why it needs to be included in the proposed Mental Health Royal Commission.’’