1st May 2024 09:58am
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan): 

All Victorians deserve access to alcohol and drug treatment when they need it, yet Victoria’s alcohol and other drug treatment systems are failing to meet community demand, with too many Victorians sitting on waitlists for too long, unable to get the help they need.

The demand for alcohol and drug treatment in Victoria has hit its highest level in a decade, with more than 92,000 Victorians seeking help last year and alcohol-related treatment accounting for more than a third of that demand.

We acknowledge that this government has more than doubled the amount of public rehab beds in the state, but this amounts to only 532 beds, approximately. This leaves many desperate people with no choice but to try to access services in the largely unregulated private rehabilitation sector. For your average worker, that means mortgaging their home, taking out loans or withdrawing their superannuation to pay for services that can cost up to $30,000 a month.

In 2022 the Andrews Labor government announced the establishment of a new rehabilitation service to be delivered in partnership with AOD public sector providers, employers and unions to ensure that working people and their families could access timely treatment without fear of losing their jobs. Disappointingly, the government has not acted on this election commitment.

While the AOD sector waits for the promised uplift in investment in drug and alcohol treatment capacity, more Victorians will continue to suffer and pray that they are not too far down the waitlist.


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