Adjournment: South West Coast electorate drug rehabilitation facility

Extracted from Hansard
23 August 2017

Adjournment: South West Coast electorate drug rehabilitation facility

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Mental Health, and the action I seek is the funding of a residential rehabilitation program in my electorate. During my campaign I was regularly told that drugs, particularly ice, were a major problem facing my community. True to form, the community has come together in an effort to drive change, and an incredible amount of work has been done to look at the problem, what is driving it and what can be done to solve it.

I have proudly watched on and contributed where I could to this process, and now we are at the stage where a locally based residential rehabilitation facility has been identified as a need to fill in service gaps in the western region. Minister, as you would be aware, waiting lists are in excess of six months, and as a state Victoria is short of residential beds. In south-west Victoria, there is not one residential rehab bed, meaning those needing to access this treatment are required to be some distance from their home and support networks — often the biggest single factor in people declining treatment. Such a facility is the number one priority of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network, and at the recent Great South Coast regional assembly it was again highlighted that the lack of local residential rehab beds is a hole in the system.

The Western Regional Alcohol and Drug Centre, or WRAD as we know it, has done a power of work in this space and is now at the stage where it is asking for support for a 20-bed facility. They have identified a facility and are confident the community will pull together to fund the capital works. All that is needed is $1.1 million annual recurrent funding from this government to enable the programs to be delivered. I have no doubt the community will be able to raise the capital for this project. We have proven this time and time again — if we want to get something done, we will get it done, no matter how many times we are told no.

I have spoken with the WRAD director, Geoff Soma, about the issue, and he believes it will be a huge step towards local people breaking their addiction cycle. This is a well-supported model in my community, with letters of support received from a number of organisations, including Victoria Police, mental health professionals and education providers.

I have also been speaking with Dr Rodger Brough, an acclaimed expert in this field, who is the addiction medicine physician at the Warrnambool Base Hospital — and I worked with him for many years — a role he has held for the past 22 years. Such a centre would support his work, allowing people to withdraw while under medical supervision before moving into a residential facility.

Minister, this is a high priority for my electorate, and I ask that you make it a priority of your government and fund the recurrent $1.1 million per annum to make sure this occurs. I worked in this area for many years. I referred many a young person to these programs, and they were always out of the electorate and had long waiting lists. That was one of the main reasons we did not see as much success as I would have liked to have seen. Having something in our electorate would be very beneficial to the whole state.