Member for Morwell, Russell Northe quizzed the State Government in Parliament last week with regards to the lack of local alcohol and drug detox beds in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region.
Mr Northe indicated this had been a long running issue with many local individuals, families and service providers frustrated by the lack of services in a community that desperately needs detox beds.
“In 2019 Moe Rotary hosted a number of community forums highlighting this very plight, yet since this time it appears very little progression has been made with regards to increasing detox bed capacity in the region” Mr Northe commenced.
“To the Governments credit there has been some investment in terms of alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities in Gippsland which is very much welcomed; however, the majority of people going into rehabilitation need to, or are required to detox first” Mr Northe continued.
“If there are not enough public detox beds in our community then people in need of desperate assistance are not able to commence their rehabilitation so the vicious cycle continues. Unfortunately, many are forced to detox in Melbourne or other parts of the State, or they are unable to get a bed at all and this is denying individuals the opportunity to commence their recovery and get well” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe said it was important for those suffering from drug and alcohol harm to receive the support and services in their local community when it was most needed.
“In a number of circumstances there is often only a small window where people suffering from drug and alcohol harm reach out for help, and it’s absolutely imperative detox beds and rehabilitation places are available when the window is open”, Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe also raised major issues confronting individuals, families, service providers and clinicians when it comes to the dual diagnosis of people who are contending with both mental health problems and addictions.
There are a high percentage of people who present with both challenges; however, despite the best efforts of those who work in the sector there appears to be little co-ordination of services which leaves a fragmented and frustrated system.
“If we are unable to give people a one-stop shop when it comes to mental health and addiction then it is very difficult for people to recover as these services often operate in silos which means a person is forced to go to one place for their mental health concerns and a different setting for their drug, alcohol or gambling addiction” Mr Northe said.
Eastern Health had previously established a partnership between consumers and carers with a lived experience of dual diagnosis, along with clinicians and practitioners working within the Eastern Metropolitan Region Alcohol and Drug and Mental health services. A documentary was made to mark the partnership between the Eastern Metropolitan Region Dual Diagnosis Consumer and Carer Advisory Council, and the Dual Diagnosis Working Group known as the Dual Diagnosis ‘In Tandem Model’.
Grahame Mitchell a Carer Council Member noted within the documentary that, “If you say to the staff I’ve got a mental health problem, and I’ve got a substance abuse concern but I’m one person, can you treat both”.
“Mr Mitchell’s statement or question is so profound, and I think it really encapsulates the issues at hand. The answer to the question should be absolutely yes no matter which part of the State you live” Mr Northe said.
“We know the State Government often references the Royal Commission into Mental Health and the ultimate objective to ensure local people can access local services when they most need it. I also believe that this really is a fantastic objective to aspire to; however, there is a long way to go including the need to increase detox beds; increase rehabilitation beds; and implement a dual-diagnosis program or centre in our community” Mr Northe concluded.