The Coalition’s harsh cuts to funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug treatment, including services for crystal methamphetamine (or “ice”) addiction, are having a particularly severe impact on the Central Coast.
The cynical “rationalising and streamlining” of health programmes will see close to $800 million cut from the Health Flexible Funds, which includes funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
Labor’s spokesperson for alcohol and other drugs policy, Stephen Jones, visited the Central Coast today and said that local citizens should be demanding better from Canberra.
“Communities want the services available to help them get on top of alcohol and illicit drug use, including ice addiction.
“The Coalition has found money for a ‘dob in a dealer’ ice hotline and a $20 million graphic TV ad campaign telling Australians that ice is a problem. But at the same time as they are talking tough on ice they are ripping money away from where it is really needed.”
Senator Deborah O’Neill said that without properly funded treatment services in the local area problems associated with alcohol and illicit drug use, particularly ice, will worsen.
“There is a severe shortage of available beds in treatment facilities across Australia as demand increases, but the situation is especially desperate on the Central Coast.”
The situation is on the Central Coast is critical. Kamira Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment, located in Wyong, has a waiting list of 10 to 12 weeks for pregnant women and mothers children. Close to 30 women are calling every day but have to be turned away due to a lack of resources.
The organisation has been under tremendous pressure with staff anxious about their futures due to the Coalition’s delays in affording a one-year funding extension reprieve.
Kamira’s CEO Cate Hewitt said that urgent action was needed.
“For some of these women, if they can’t get access to treatment they will lose their children. We are creating a new generation of stolen children.”
Unfortunately, the gaffe-prone Member for Dobell, Karen McNamara, has been missing in action. Her only real contribution has been to falsely claim that a local ice addict gouged out his eyes and ate them.
Right now workers on the frontline in Dobell are doing their best with one arm tied behind their back.
Local treatment services face an uncertain future because they have been abandoned by the Coalition.