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Alcohol and drug services reform to deliver better treatment for clients

Friday, 08 June 2012

The Victoria Coalition Government has taken a major step towards improving Victoria's alcohol and drug treatment services with the release of a 'roadmap' for reform, the Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge announced today.

The roadmap – New directions for alcohol and drug treatment services – was outlined at a conference in Melbourne today for treatment agencies.

Ms Wooldridge said the reform will address system weaknesses highlighted in a number of reviews, including a report last year by the Victorian Auditor General's Office.

"Consistently the message was that the current system is difficult to get into and confusing to navigate for clients," Ms Wooldridge said.

"At the moment there are over 20 different service types delivered by over 100 different agencies, which has made the system fragmented, rigid and complex."

Ms Wooldridge said that the key aim in reforming Victoria's alcohol and drug treatment system is to make it work better for the people who need to use it.

"People come to alcohol and drug treatment because they want to make a positive change in their lives. Treatment needs to help people achieve that change," Ms Wooldridge said.

"The treatment system should be centred on the person, and be family and culturally inclusive. It should be oriented towards helping people to recover, to reconnect with their families and to reintegrate into their communities.

"Our approach, our workforce and our programs should support people in their individual journey towards recovery."

The reform priorities are to:

  • build models of care that are focused on recovery and family inclusion, particularly taking into account the needs of the children of clients;
  • streamline treatment programs from over 20 different types down to six, and redevelop the funding model so that services are better able to provide individualised responses for clients;
  • develop consistent, standardised assessment and needs identification to achieve a more appropriate and comprehensive response for clients;
  • foster more effective treatment pathways at the local level which are better connected into a full range of services; and
  • build a workforce that recognises the current skills and expertise of employees in the sector and develops good clinical, relationship and care-coordination skills.

Ms Wooldridge said key focus areas in 2012 are the redevelopment of the pharmacotherapy system; introduction of a bed vacancy register and central intake; and expansion of access to needle and syringe programs and counselling services in growth corridors and regional areas.

A new alcohol and drug treatment workforce strategy and implementation plan will also be introduced this year.

"These reforms set a new and exciting direction for alcohol and drug treatment services," Ms Wooldridge said.

"Throughout this program of change, government and stakeholders will work together to design and implement improvements that make the alcohol and drug treatment system better for clients, better for families and better for communities."

New directions for alcohol and drug treatment services: A roadmap is available on the Department of Health website at http://www.health.vic.gov.au/aod/sectorreform 

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