GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT WON’T MAKE UP FOR TREATMENT SERVICE CUTS

Labor welcomes the Government’s announcement that new funds will be directed towards rehabilitation and grass roots responses to help communities get on top of ice.

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However, the Government needs to confirm that this new money won't be sourced from cuts to existing drug and alcohol programs.

In its first two budgets the Abbott-Turnbull Government slashed funds and plunged the sector into chaos by failing to fund services until the 11th hour.

 This included:

  • Close to $800 million cut from the Health Flexible Funds including funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
  • Mishandling of NGO treatment grants for a sector already struggling to meet demand with funding only extended at the very end of the financial year and then for just twelve months leading  to an urgent funding crisis.

Labor’s spokesperson for alcohol and other drugs policy, Stephen Jones, today called on the Turnbull Liberal Government to listen to the experts.

“The release of the National Ice Taskforce report today will no doubt prove uncomfortable reading for the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

“The head of the Taskforce Ken Lay has stated that throwing more and more people in jail isn’t a real solution. We need to invest in treatment services, the very services that have been abandoned by an out-of-touch Liberal Government.

David Feeney, Shadow Minister for Justice, said that the report supported Labor’s call for a greater integration of justice and public health systems.

“Despite the best efforts of officers on the ground, law enforcement efforts have  actually failed to halt the supply of ice even though there have been increased seizure and ­arrests rates.

“The wholesale price of ice has fallen over the past year in Australia.

“That is why the Government needs to end their disdain for treatment services and enable a strong health-based approach to complement law enforcement efforts.”

Action is needed to help the workers on the frontline doing their best with one arm tied behind their backs. 

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