A new Upper House inquiry has been established to inquire into the provision of drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote NSW.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently reported that in 2016, Australia recorded the highest number of drug-induced deaths since the late 1990s.
The death rate from psychostimulants, which include methamphetamines and the drug 'ice', has quadrupled since 1999.
Australia recorded in 2016 the highest number of drug-induced deaths since the late 1990s.
The Chair of the Committee, the Hon. Greg Donnelly MLC highlighted the importance of the inquiry, in light of the data.
“These statistics are alarming, and give a sense of urgency to the Committee’s investigations,” he said.
Tina Philip, OAM, and former mental health advocate in the Eurobodalla, said that drug deaths were a complex issue.
“Too often when an individual presents, the immediate presentation or presenting symptoms are addressed, however the underlying cause of the "crisis" is overlooked,” she said.
“Unfortunately some individuals have complex problems and there is no easy fix, however, we can learn from individuals experiences, what has worked and what has not.”
The Hon. Greg Donnelly said the inquiry would examine the provision of rehabilitation services; “including the range and types of services available across regional, rural and remote NSW.
“The funding of services, whether public or private, the cost of services, and the ease with which services can be accessed will all be examined.
“The provision of drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote NSW has its own particular challenges, and this inquiry will assist in the identification of any gaps and shortages in the provision of these services” Mr Donnelly said.
The expected wait time for this service can be anything from four to eight weeks- Shirley Diskon
Professionals working with people experiencing drug and alcohol problems in the Eurobodalla have said that the inquiry is urgently needed, as available services are unable to meet the demand.
“It is extremely difficult to access the current services for detox and rehabilitation due to the lack of services and those services that are available are stretched to the limit, overworked, unequipped and lack of staff,” Shirley Diskon, of Hope House, has said.
“There is a problem trying to access the local medical services on the South Coast, as most doctors in the area do not bulk bill to obtain a referral to drug and alcohol counselling, or access to the Community Health Drug and Alcohol Services, as they are already over capacity.
“The expected wait time for this service can be anything from four to eight weeks which leads the men trying to access these services time to fail, use again or self-harm, leading to criminal behaviour, domestic violence,” Mrs Diskon said.
It is not uncommon for individuals to have a dual disorder- Tina Philip, OAM
The inquiry will also look at the evidence of successful and unsuccessful rehabilitation services, and assess the evidence regarding the efficacy and impacts of mandatory detoxification programs for those who self-
Ms Philip, OAM, and Mrs Diskon said that long term mental health issues need to be addressed if any progress is to be made in drug rehabilitation.
“In most cases, self-medication is due to long term mental health issues,” Shirley Diskon, of Hope House, said.
“Regional NSW is in desperate need of additional rehabilitation services. There should be a service that addresses all issues around drugs, alcohol, criminal behaviour and mental health.”
Ms Philip, OAM, agreed.
“I think in addressing drug related deaths we should also be addressing underlying mental health issues. It is not uncommon for individuals to have a dual disorder,” she said.
The Committee welcomes submissions from interested parties, which should be received by 8th December 2017. Submissions can be lodged via the parliamentary website.
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