Push for critical facilities

Mental health advocacy group Barrier Breakers is calling on governments to develop mental health and drug facilities in central Gippsland.

The group’s request includes an alcohol and drug detoxification and rehabilitation centre, as well as the development of a Youth Prevention and Recovery Care service.

Barrier Breakers chair Derek Amos said YPARCs provided 24-hour treatment and support for people between the ages of 16 and 25 years and provided “vital care” for people who no longer needed hospital treatment for mental illness.

Mr Amos called on the Federal Government to spend some of the almost $300 million recently allocated to tackling ice and other drugs on building an alcohol and drug detox and rehab unit locally.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said he supported Barrier Breakers’ push.

“We need a new alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility in Gippsland and I have written to the federal and state ministers responsible, seeking further advice on how both levels of government can work together to provide this,” Mr Chester said.

More than $200 million of the federal drug funding will be invested through the 31 Primary Health Networks across Australia.

“Gippsland’s Primary Health Networks will decide for themselves what is the best solution for our region, rather than being dictated to by Canberra,” Mr Chester said.

He said the Department of Health was currently working on a funding formula that would take into account areas most in need and population data, before determining the precise funding allocations to each PHN.

“Once these funding allocations have been determined, the PHNs will be in a better position to know what services they will be able to provide.

“I believe there is an opportunity for existing drug and alcohol rehabilitation service providers to play a bigger role in Gippsland, and this can be achieved with the assistance of federal and state governments.”

State Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said more than $7 million had been invested in drug and alcohol treatment services in the region in 2015-16.

“People from Gippsland also are able to access residential withdrawal and rehabilitation services that are offered on a statewide basis,” Mr Foley said.

He said there had also been funding for a new non-residential service established in Gippsland this year as part of the government’s Ice Action Plan.

Mr Foley said while there were no further YPARCs planned at this stage, the government would continue to assess the needs across the state.

“We look forward to working with the community to develop the right responses and services so that Victorians experience their best possible health, including mental health.

“Work is currently underway to establish four new residential withdrawal beds in Gippsland.”