STEPHEN JONES MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH: I’m with Anne Charlton and Emma McBride at the Kamira Drug and Alcohol Treatment service, which is a unique service in New South Wales providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation services for women throughout the state.
We know that they’ve got huge backlogs here and we know that we’ve got a real need in this community to provide rehabilitation services to help people to turn their lives around.
I’m delighted to be here today to make an announcement that an elected Shorten Labor Government will invest over $18.2 million in services for drug and alcohol rehabilitation including a special package of $16 million dollars to deal with a scourge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD. We know we’ve got a problem with FASD and we know that it has a long tail on it. The intergenerational impact on young people and their families is massive.
If you are born with FASD today there is a much higher likelihood that you’re going to be dropping out of school, a higher likelihood that you’re going to have mental health issues and a higher likelihood that you’re going to have problems in the criminal justice system. So our $16 million package is designed to put in place prevention strategies and early diagnostic tools so that doctors and nurses are able to establish if they have got someone presenting with FASD problems.
Having early intervention to ensure that we can diagnose it and put in place programmes to manage the condition are crucial. In addition to that our plan will involve working with high risk communities, particularly in regional and remote Australia where we know that we’ve got a higher incidence of this disorder.
I’m also delighted to be able to announce today that due to the strong advocacy of Anne Charlton and Emma McBride that we will be investing an additional $2.2 million in the Kamira Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre. We know that this is critical; there is a huge waiting list here. I’m told that they get up to 30 calls a day from people waiting to get into the service. They’ve got 22 Beds, 11 of them they cannot fill at the moment because they simply don’t have the operating funds.
So it’s great to announce today that a Shorten Labour Government will invest the money to enable this service to be able to operate those additional 11 beds. This will provide a much needed service to the local community. But I want to stress again that this is the only service providing specialised support for women throughout New South Wales. There’s a big need, it’s helping people turn their lives around. If we focus on rehabilitation it ensures that we really address a lot of those long-term impacts that otherwise would be a problem for women and their children.
JOURNALIST: Emma, this is obviously something that is quite close to you personally in terms of your health background. Tell me a little bit about what today’s announcement means for you.
EMMA MCBRIDE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DOBELL: This is critical for the Central Coast, as a mental health worker and someone who has worked in the local mental health system for the last 10 years I’ve seen the strain that our system is under and the dedicated staff that work within it. This announcement for Kamira will mean that those people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to get care can now get care when they need it and get that expert support that only specialised services like Kamira can provide. So I’m really pleased that a Shorten Labor Government has made this strong commitment to helping women and families make positive changes and turn their lives around.
JOURNALIST: Okay, just in terms of I guess the policies from you guys - we’ve seen $50 million promised in the seat of Robertson but in neighboring Dobell this is the biggest announcement we’ve had from this campaign. Why so much in one and not so much in the other?
JONES: Well, we will have more to say in the coming days about our commitment to the Central Coast. The important thing about this announcement today is that it provides a much needed service not only for the people who live north of where we are standing today but the people who live south, and also the people across all of New South Wales. We know we’ve got a problem with alcohol and other drugs in this community, these services enable us to help those women who are putting their hands up saying: “I want to turn my life around.”