The Victorian Coalition Government is investing $188 million in new funding for improved prevention and treatment services to reduce the harm that alcohol and drugs cause in the community.
Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said the funding in the 2011-12 Victorian Budget is the Coalition’s first step in investing in alcohol and drug prevention and treatment services with $23.7 million for new initiatives to prevent substance abuse in Victoria.
“A key focus of the Budget funding is building treatment options for an individual over a long period to prevent relapse and ensure people with a mental illness are linked to appropriate services to better support them in their treatment and rehabilitation,” Ms Wooldridge said.
The Coalition Government will invest $20 million in treatment services including extra Counselling, Consultancy and Continuing Care (CCCC) services for regional cities and outer suburban growth areas, providing access to treatment and intensive case management services to support an individual or family.
“These services will be delivered from within local health hubs to integrate services for people needing alcohol and other drug treatment services,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“Pharmacotherapy prescribing and dispensing services will also be expanded across Victoria.
“Improving access to these vital services will help Victorians escape the damaging impacts of drug addiction and also help to address shortfalls in workforce and specialist support for pharmacotherapy treatment services in Victoria,” Ms Wooldridge said.
The Budget will also expand the needle and syringe program in Footscray and Frankston to ensure 24-hour operation of these mobile services.
These services, which operate in areas of high drug use, are under pressure due to heavy demand. The new Budget will ensure 24-hour access to clean injecting equipment, information, education and referral to treatment services, preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs, and in turn protecting the wider Victorian community.
The former Labor Government left behind a $39 million per year shortfall in funding for alcohol and drugs, with almost one-third of the funding for alcohol and drugs treatment services due to expire on 30 June this year.
The Coalition Government’s Budget funding will ensure the continuation of vital drug and alcohol services and help reduce the impact of drug and alcohol-related harm on the community.
The Coalition Government is committed to maintaining these important services and the funds will be used to respond to immediate pressures on the system and improve its capacity to meet current and future demand.
In addition, the Coalition Government has already started work on a whole-of-government Alcohol and Drug Strategy to reduce the incidence and impact of drug and alcohol abuse on individuals, families and in the community.
Victoria has lacked a comprehensive drug and alcohol strategy for more than a decade.
The Coalition Government’s plan will involve whole-of-government reform in service delivery and policy across the alcohol and drugs sector to reduce the impact of alcohol and drugs on our community and deliver effective services for individuals and families.