Labor’s alcohol and illicit drugs policy spokesperson Stephen Jones, Labor Senator for Tasmania and Labor’s candidate for Braddon Justine Keay have announced that a Shorten Labor Government will dedicate $970,000 thousand to helping communities in Northern Tasmania tackle illicit drug use, including ice.
The new funding will go towards the rolling out of Mission Australia’s “Youth Beat” programme on the North Coast of Tasmania.
Youth Beat is an outreach program that helps young people access vital services and turn their lives around. Through the use of a van workers can travel to spots where young people meet and refer them to accommodation, medical care, harm minimisation and other services.
By helping at-risk youth they can prevent drug and alcohol addiction before it takes hold.
Stephen Jones visited North West Tasmania today to announce Labor’s commitments.
“Supporting Mission Australia to expand their outreach programme is just what communities in Northern Tasmania need.
“Labor understands that we need to invest in helping people change their lives for the better.
“The head of the Ice Taskforce, former Police Commissioner Ken Lay, is exactly right in saying that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We need to think differently and put dollars where they will help people.”
Anne Urquhart said that the funding commitment will make a real difference.
“Law enforcement efforts will only succeed if greater emphasis is placed on prevention strategies.
“That is why this type of outreach service is so valuable; it will have a positive impact on the lives of many people on the North West Coast.
Labor Candidate for Braddon Justine Keay said preventative measures such as “Youth Beat” were vital to tackle youth drug and alcohol issues in Braddon.
“Right now, only 9.5 per cent of all government spending dedicated to combating illicit drug use goes toward prevention services. This has to change if we want to help vulnerable communities get on top of ice and other harmful drugs.
“Once someone has developed an addiction, the cost to the individual, the community and the health system quickly blow out.”
Illicit drug use, including ice, is affecting families across North West Tasmania.
- There are reports that some communities like Smithton are particularly affected with 10 per cent of all people using ice.
- North West Tasmania has a high youth unemployment rate, meaning that young people are at greater risk of substance misuse.
But communities across North West Tasmania have been abandoned by a Coalition Government which has promised the world on combating the “scourge of ice” but delivered little.
- Almost $1 billion has been has been cut from the Health Flexible Funds, which includes funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
- For two years in a row the Coalition has only offered a temporary, one-year funding extension for services relying on the NGO Treatment Grants.
These short-sighted decisions mean that services trying to help people turn their lives around have been working with one arm tied behind their back.