Premier Daniel Andrews has doubled down on his stubborn refusal to adopt the Liberal Nationals sensible policy of mandatory residential drug and alcohol treatment for young offenders.
The latest crime statistics revealed 15-19 year olds now comprise the largest cohort committing crimes against the person, and there are strong links between youth offenders and drug and alcohol abuse.
In a further insult to regional communities, the Premier also dismissed genuine pleas for more residential rehab beds in regional centres including Warrnambool, Mildura and Traralgon as “shocking scare campaigns”.
The Liberal Nationals announced our commitment to mandatory treatment for young offenders on March 5, 2018, and pledged residential rehabilitation centres in Mildura, Warrnambool and Traralgon in response to community requests.
Comments from Emma Kealy, Shadow Minister for Mental Health
“It is plain common sense to introduce mandatory treatment to help young people whose offending or risky behaviour is a result of substance abuse.
“It’s disappointing that Daniel Andrews is too arrogant to adopt this initiative just because he didn’t think of it first.
“Drug and alcohol abuse is also a very serious problem in our regional communities and the Andrews Government is completely failing to keep pace with demands for residential rehabilitation services.
“Waiting lists for rehab have blown out, with some people being told they have to wait more than a year and that’s just not good enough.
“When users reach out for help to get clean, we must ensure the rehabilitation services are ready and waiting to assist but Daniel Andrews pride is letting these people down.”
Comment from Roma Britnell, Member for South West Coast
“There is a critical shortage of residential rehab beds in our area, and our community has identified the problem, come up with a solution and fundraised – we just need the Andrews Government to stop being so city-centric and provide funding support.”
“I’ve worked in the health field, and I know what a difference locally-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation services can make.
“Our community wants action from the Andrews Government because it’s vitally important to have services that help people get their lives back on track, no matter where they live.”