Youth Drugs Local Issues

Ice Freezes Over Rural Victoria

7 August 2015

Leader of the Nationals and Member for Murray Plains used the Adjournment Debate in State Parliament this week to highlight the inequities young and vulnerable rural people suffer in comparision to their city peers.

“The Melbourne Labor Government has failed dismally to resource regional and rural communities in the fight against ice,” Mr Walsh said.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines, particularly ice, in Victoria was tabled in State Parliament on 3 September 2014.

Mr Walsh said the report examined the specific problems faced by and responses needed for rural and regional communities.

“It is the government’s obligation to ensure that the people of regional and rural Victoria receive mental health care equal to their city peers.

 Sadly, in our experience, this is not the case,” he said.

Mr Walsh referred to recommendations from the Inquiry which specifically talked about the lack of attention given to drug use and misuse in rural and regional Victoria.

Recommendation 39 addressed access and availability of alcohol and other drug services in regional Victoria, staffing issues, the tyranny of distance, issues pertaining to anonymity and confidentiality in small rural communities, and rural input into decision making.

Recommendation 47 referred to the significant barriers which exist in regional areas and recommended that the government ensure that local withdrawal beds are available for dependent methamphetamine users; better access available to residential rehabilitation beds in regional areas, and protocols be developed for transfer of clients from regional areas to metropolitan and larger centres.

“When families need help, they need it now in their own communities, not weeks or months later in a city setting,” Mr Walsh said.

The government response to the Parliamentary Inquiry was tabled on 17 March 2015 but did not respond specifically to the issues relating to regional and rural Victoria.

“I urge the minister to properly resource the regions so that the recommendations made specifically for rural and regional Victoria can be put into place at the earliest possible opportunity,” he said.

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