ABC Illawarra Interview on Ice Treatment Cuts Hurting the Illawarra

MELINDA JAMES: Let’s hear from Stephen Jones, the Opposition’s assistant spokesperson on health. He has had a lot to say about ice and federal government funding for various treatment programs. He spoke earlier today to Nick McLaren.

STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH: The situation in the Illawarra, in the Shoalhaven, in the Southern Highlands, in fact right around the country, is exactly the same. 

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There are more people trying to turn their lives around, to rehabilitate themselves, than there are services available. In fact, on the weekend I was in Alice Springs and they said that the two services out there could take three times as many people, they are having to turn people away on a daily basis. The week before that I was in Nowra, it’s the same story. They are turning people away because they don’t have the services available. In Wollongong they also don’t have the services available. The Government has to step up to the plate; they’ve had a National Ice Taskforce and spent $20 million on an advertising campaign telling us that we have a problem. But they won’t put resources into the real solution to the problem which is rehabilitation.

NICK MCLAREN: But surely the National Ice Taskforce has identified that there is a shortage of services and that something needs to be done about that?

JONES: In fact the head of the Taskforce, Ken Lay, has said that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem and that we need to look to other strategies such as rehabilitation and prevention. Yet we had the Minister stand up in Parliament yesterday and disavow these findings and say that they are going to take a different direction. This is very disappointing, we need the Government to release the Taskforce report and respond to it in a proper way.

MCLAREN: So the report hasn’t been released yet?

JONES: The report hasn’t been released yet, they have been sitting on it for a while now. We need the Government to release the report and have a public discussion about strategies that are going to work.

MCLAREN: Just finally, is this one of these federal/state things where the federal Government says that it is a state responsibility?

JONES: For over twenty years both the federal and state governments have had a role in rehabilitation. It’s proceeded this way under successive governments and most treatment services would fall over if there wasn’t federal Government funding going into them. All tiers of government have a role to play. 

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