My matter is for the Minister for Mental Health.

It concerns the funding of the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addiction, and has been prompted – in part – by the Minister’s reply to my Question on Notice number 2211.

I do want to thank the Minister for his response.

However, given it revealed that the Turning Point organisation directly received around $16.5 million during 2019-20, it has actually now left me with even more questions.  I was previously unaware that Turning Point was receiving anything like that amount of money from the Victorian Government nor perhaps even additional, indirect amounts.

Mostly, the only previous anecdotes I had seen about funding to Turning Point were press reports and online references about a $1.5 million grant it received some time ago.

Aside from the occasional piece about a Federal Labor election promise of 2019 of another $13.5 million, many of those press reports were actually written about Turning Point’s extraordinary advice earlier this year, on its counselling-online website, that individuals should (quote) “talk to (their) dealer about what might happen if (their) regular drug supply may be restricted and stock up on (their) drugs of choice” during the COVID-19 period.

As I have looked through official government publications (including various Annual Reports) relating to the funding of alcohol and other drug (or AOD) services, full public disclosure of this funding has continued to prove elusive.  I note that the Minister’s answer to question 2211 also curiously talks about “approximate” funding to Turning Point as though the Government itself might not be exactly sure about what is currently being given to it and/or other recipients of public support in this field.

In short, all of this has left me concerned both about the state of the public reporting of the full breadth of the Victorian Government’s funding of AOD services and also about how efficiently that money is being spent.

The action I therefore seek is that the Minister provide the following, specific information:

  • the total number of individual organisations and service providers, during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, to which the Government has provided funding (and the respective amounts of that funding) for AOD services;
  • the total amount being spent, over the forward estimates, specifically on the drug injecting room in North Richmond; on drug rehabilitation facilities across Victoria; and on education, including in schools and on social media, about the dangers of illicit drug use, as one means of reducing this overall spending in the future; and
  • where Victorians can view completed evaluations of the Government’s policies and expenditure on AOD services, including the ACIL Allen Consulting 2018-19 evaluation of alcohol and other drug treatment interventions for medium and high risk offenders.