Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association chief executive Sam Biondo has called on the Andrews government to address the six-month wait for a public bed in its submission on the state budget.
Mr Biondo said a report commissioned by the Andrews government into the sector’s reforms under the Liberals had raised “serious concerns” that needed to be “urgently” rectified.
The independent ASPEX review found long waiting lists to get into treatment, inadequate case management and a 21 per cent reduction in people coming through the system due to a confusing new central intake helpline.
“There are many people out there who have serious substance [abuse] issues who can’t get into the system in a timely manner because of both systemic issues and capacity problems,” Mr Biondo said.
“There are too many steps, there is too much of a time lag … people just lose heart before they even walk in.”
Along with fixing the intake process, the association’s list of recommendations include $1.8 million for statewide access to needle and syringe programs, $15 million for 16 new drug courts, $4.8 million for “care and recovery” case management and funding towards research and data collection to better inform policy.
It also wants $9.6 million for 60 new residential rehab beds in rural and regional Victoria in response to “entrenched calls” from the community.
Mr Biondo said at the same time as the government failed to adequately fund the public system, it allowed private rehabs to operate without requiring accreditation, registration or basic standards.
“The sad and slow responses from government, at all levels, for dealing with the growing alcohol and drug issues … has creating a burgeoning demand from the community,” he said.
“People looking for business opportunities are moving in [and] they may be more motivated by the money that can be made than client outcomes.”
Mr Biondo, who’s written to Mental Health Minister Martin Foley on the issue, said parents were mortgaging their homes and cashing in their superannuation to pay for their loved ones to go into private treatment.
Mr Foley told Fairfax Media the government was also concerned and had introduced a Health Complaints Bill to crack down on “dangerous or unethical” health providers, including private alcohol and drug services.
Under the proposed new laws, a health complaints commissioner would receive beefed up powers to respond to complaints.
However, Mr Biondo said mechanisms were needed to stop problems from occurring in the first place rather than mopping them up after the damage was done.
Mr Foley said the government was focused on providing day drug and alcohol programs rather than rehab beds after assessing local and international evidence. To read more click here.
The Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016. To view the high quality Conference Program CLICK HERE.
To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE. Early bird registrations close Friday 8th April so be quick to receive a discounted rate.
Hosted by The Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Association the Conference promotes and encourages participation from all parts of the sector towards a shared appreciation of what medical, psycho-social and peer-based approaches can offer, through the experiences of service users, clinicians, and researchers alike.