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Russel Northe MLA:
Northe Questions Minister on Residential Drug and Alcohol Facility for Latrobe Valley

Inquiries on State Government plans for residential Alcohol and Drug rehabilitation facility in the Latrobe Valley.

By Portal Admin - 10th April 2018 - Back to News

Member for Morwell, Russell Northe has today questioned the Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley on what the State Government plans are in building a much needed residential Alcohol and Drug rehabilitation facility in the Latrobe Valley.

Mr Northe said, "The lives of many individuals and families within the Latrobe Valley were being destroyed by drug abuse, and a local residential rehabilitation facility was desperately required to support those who seek help."

Whilst there are some services and counselling available to individuals and families, this does not work for everyone and in many cases medium to long-term residential rehabilitation accommodation is required.

Unfortunately with increased drug use, there comes increased crime. For example there were 255 drug offences in Latrobe region in 2010, yet in 2017, this number had risen to 624. Recorded deaths from drug overdoses in Latrobe has tragically risen from four deaths in 2009 to ten in 2016. This figure does not include the many cases of people who have taken their own lives due to the impacts of alcohol and drugs.

Mr Northe was joined in Parliament by the parents of some families who have also been touched by the scourge of drugs, which often sees their children involved in crime, in court or even in jail. Even when a person seeks help through a rehabilitation facility the financial costs in many cases can be tens of thousands of dollars for their families.

"The State Government allocated $9.7 million in their 2017/2018 State Budget to plan for and purchase three new regional sites for drug rehabilitation; however it’s important to understand if any of this money will be spent in the Latrobe Valley" Mr Northe said.

Mr Northe subsequently asked the Minister for Mental Health whether the State Government intends to build a fully dedicated residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility in Central Gippsland to support local people who are struggling with drug abuse.

Mr Northe said whilst he appreciated the Ministers response to his questions, the reality is the State Government have made absolutely no commitment to build a residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility in Latrobe City and that is extremely disappointing for individuals and families contending with drug issues in our community.

Question Without Notice: Wednesday the 28th of March

Topic: Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health Facility for Gippsland

Minister: Mental Health

My question is to the Minister for Mental Health:

Minister, a recent episode of A Current Affair highlighted drug issues within the Morwell community, and whilst the said story in my view was one sided and lacking balance, it did raise ongoing concerns in relation to drugs and its impact across the broader community including crime; for example drug offences in Latrobe in 2010 were 255, yet in 2017 they have risen to 624; recorded deaths from drug overdoses tragically rose from four in 2009, to ten in 2016, and this statistic doesn’t include those who have taken their own lives as a result of drug and/or alcohol abuse; Minister whilst I understand there are some support and counselling services in place for those contending with drug and alcohol problems, this is only part of the solution in many cases, so Minister my question is: What measures is the Government taking to improve support for people within the Latrobe Valley and their families in dealing with the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse?

Supplementary Question:

To the Minster for Mental Health

Minister the lives of many children from good families within the Latrobe Valley have been destroyed by drugs, and the option for one to access alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation facilities are limited and at times extremely costly; indeed the Parliaments Inquiry into Drug Law Reform at Chapter 12 refers to challenges facing the sector including and I quote "lengthy wait periods before a patient can access treatment, particularly residential rehabilitation, and "limited access to treatment services in rural and regional areas", Minister today in the gallery are some of the parents of those children who have experienced the dire impacts of their children’s drug abuse and like me they are keen to know if any of the $9.7 million allocated in last year’s budget to plan for and purchase three new regional sites for drug rehabilitation will actually be spent in the Latrobe Valley and if not, will your Government commit to finally building a residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility in Latrobe City where it is drastically needed.


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