Mental Health Youth Health Drugs

Methamphetamine User Rehabilitation Services

6 August 2015 Adjournment

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Mental Health, and it relates to an inquiry of the former Parliament’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee into the supply and use of methamphetamines, particularly ice, in Victoria.

The action I seek is that the minister put in place the recommendations from the parliamentary inquiry that relate specifically to rural and regional Victoria.

Volumes 1 and 2 of the report were tabled on 3 September 2014 and included 54 recommendations. The report discusses a number of issues and examines the specific problems faced by rural and regional communities and the responses needed for those problems.

In particular I refer to recommendation 39, which goes to the lack of attention given to drug use and misuse in rural and regional Victoria. The recommendation addresses a number of matters, including the access and availability of alcohol and other drug services for people 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 states:

Given that significant barriers exist in regional areas, the committee recommends that the Victorian government:

(a)    ensure local withdrawal beds are available for dependent methamphetamine users;

(b)   ensure better access to residential rehabilitation beds in the regional areas and develop protocols for transfer of clients from regional areas to metropolitan and larger centres;

(c)    ensure that outpatient services in rural areas are well resourced to respond to methamphetamine users.

The committee issued an addendum to volume 1, which was a statement of principles underlying the recommendations. Point 11 of that addendum states:

An effective response to methamphetamine use in rural and regional communities requires tailored interventions that take into account the specific, evidence‑based needs of the community.

On 27 August 2014 the Premier, as the then Leader of the Opposition, announced an Ice Action Plan to be delivered within the first 100 days of government should Labor be elected.

The Victorian government announced the Ice Action Plan on 5 March 2015.

The government’s response to the committee’s inquiry was tabled on 17 March 2015, but it did not respond specifically to the issues relating to rural and regional Victoria. It was essentially the delivery of a plan supported by $45.5 million in new funding, which the government described as the first step in addressing the challenges associated with ice. A range of programs were funded out of that particular money.

It is the government’s obligation to ensure that young and vulnerable people in rural and regional areas receive mental health care equal to that of their city peers. However, in country communities our experience is that sadly this is not the case.

When people need help, they need it now and in their own communities, not weeks or months later in a city setting.

I urge the minister to properly resource the regions so that the recommendations made specifically for rural and regional Victoria can be put in place at the earliest possible opportunity.

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