MY POLICY INITIATIVE
Feedback from our community and leaders in the local health sector is that Central Gippsland has an issue of drug and alcohol dependence, and these issues are causing major concerns. Community representatives have been calling for greater residential rehabilitation support for those contending with drug and alcohol, and related mental health issues: since Hobsons Park closed in the early 1990’s. Statistics show that drug and alcohol abuse places significant strain on the current health and community services in the Morwell electorate, and it is also influencing other factors such as; suicide rates, crime rates, family violence, youth offending and mental health.
Currently, there are lengthy wait periods before a patient can access residential treatment and there are only in-home options offered within Central Gippsland – no beds are available in our health services for these patients.
The substance abuse issue has significant impact across the broader community; affecting emergency services, health services, as well as safety and community concerns. Drug offences in Latrobe in 2010 recorded 255 instances, yet in 2017 they more than doubled at 624. In addition, over 530 Latrobe Regional Hospital admissions per year are attributed to drug and alcohol abuse issues. Data also shows a clear link between substance abuse and family violence. We lose 10 people per year – which we know of – specifically to drug related deaths and in April 2017, Latrobe had the second highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in regional Victoria, statistics revealed by the Coroners Court last year.
This initiative is not about addressing these figures – it is about helping people to get well, supporting them and their families through enormous challenges, and giving them the best chance at a successful, sustainable recovery. I propose building a residential rehabilitation facility that would house an initial intake of approximately 30 residents, with a variety of programmes tailored for the issues of our area. This facility could be complementary to the Hope Restart Centre at Lucknow in East Gippsland with the 34 beds they will provide in their Stage 1 build.
- To gain commitment to commence building a dedicated 30 bed residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Central Gippsland at an approximate cost of $16 million
- I propose this facility would have a range of programmes available; including residential treatment, significant outpatient support, and community-based preventative and outreach services
I am standing with local families and emergency services personnel, to say enough is enough; our community is hurting: we need commitment to build a Drug and Alcohol residential Rehabilitation Facility in Central Gippsland and we need it now.
FURTHER POINTS OF INTEREST:
- In “2014/15 there were more than 720 episodes of care [relating to illicit drug dependencies] provided to residents of the Latrobe Valley which is something like two and a half times the next highest Gippsland local government area”. (ref)
- “In April 2017, Latrobe has the second highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in regional Victoria, according to statistics revealed by the Coroners Court” (ref)
- The Police also link these increase in drug offenses to increased crime rates; “There has been an 80 per cent rise in theft in some parts of Gippsland, and police fear drug-fuelled offenders are becoming more violent and willing to confront victims in break-ins” (ref)
- “Families of addicts are spending tens of thousands of dollars on private treatment” and are being exploited by private rehab clinics –$30,000 for 3 months – for the costs of treatment in Melbourne (Drug rehabilitation providers in Victoria are growing increasingly frustrated at a lack of government action to regulate private clinics
- Drug and alcohol abuse has an enormous impact on the Morwell electorate; we are losing 10 people per year – which we know of – specifically to drug related deaths
- “Windana chief executive officer Anne-Maree Kaser said Latrobe was recording significantly more deaths per capita than the state average”. (ref)
- The Coroners 2017 Inquiry into Drug Law Reform found that;
- 49.36% of overdose death cases had a history of mental illness
- 45.8% of cases of suicide had a history of drug use
- 46.2% of offenders in intimate partner homicide cases had a history of substance abuse