Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party has called on the state government to reinstate funding to the ‘gutted’ alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector as Australia acquires an infamous reputation for having the highest reported methamphetamine use per capita in the world.
An Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) report released yesterday listed the finding based on wastewater samples taken in December 2021 and February 2022 from 56 regional and metropolitan sites covering a population of 13 million.
This comes after the Victorian government slashed funding to the alcohol and other drugs sector through the 2022-23 Budget, including the removal of a $25 million ‘COVID-19 AOD Workers Initiative’ which funded additional AOD staff.
The 2022-23 Budget made an overall cut of $39 million cut to the AOD sector when Victoria had a list of more than 4000 people waiting to receive publicly funded AOD counselling in December 2021.
The ACIC report also comes at a time when peak body Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association has asked the government for $3 million in recurring funding across Melton, Casey, Wyndham and Cardinia, where there are growing populations and significant disadvantage, to provide new services to address AOD-related harm.
Further, the government has not been forthcoming in enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations for the AOD sector, which has led to difficulties in attracting and retaining quality staff. This has exacerbated an already burnt-out, underpaid workforce.
Stuart Grimley MP, Member for Western Victoria:
“The alcohol and other drugs sector has been running on the smell of an oily rag for a long time and we are seeing the fallout of this through the ACIC report.
“Australia is the ‘ice capital of the world’ and yet the government is scaling back investment into treatment for addicts – how does this make any sense?”
Tania Maxwell MP, Member for Northern Victoria:
“Every time an addict is turned away or asked to wait for help, we risk the safety of the community and the potential of creating more victims of crime.
“The most common breach of a community corrections order in Northern Victoria is people not attending AOD rehabilitation. How do we expect people to address their addiction if there is no place for them to check in due to lack of funding and staff resourcing?”