New strategy to tackle ice

FRONTLINE drug and alcoholtreatmentservices in Ballarat will have more access to funding for their work under a Federal Government shift in stamping out drug demand.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled his government’s National Ice Taskforce report on Sunday. The result isa significant shift away from hardline law-and-order to a rolling four-year strategy of improved treatment, aftercare, prevention, support and community awareness.

The Federal Government will spend more than $300 million implementing the new strategy to tackle ice addiction. Funding allocation will be managed by the nation’s 31 Primary Health Networks to best suit individual regionneeds.

This follows a similar Federal Government move for more targeted and timely regional service in a mental health shake-up within the past fortnight.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network Jason Trethowan said there had already been fantastic planning in Ballarat on drug and alcohol services but, he said these too would agree more needed to be done.

“We’re about ensuring the best decisions are made so Ballarat can have something close to what it needs,” Mr Trethowan said.“There are already terrific innovative models that wouldn’t be reaching their best potential, most likely due to a lack of funding, and while we must be particular about funding allocation, we’re really looking for innovation.”

Mr Trethowan said WVPHN would work closely with active services, general practitioners and consultants who have already made extensive research into the region’s services to ensure there was no doubling-up and to best integrate with existing models.

Federal minister for rural healthFiona Nash, who is also responsible for drug and alcohol policy, said that after “significant investment” in policing borders and streets to combat ice supply, work was needed to “reduce demand” for the drug.

Almost $25 million will be set aside to arm families and communities with resources, information and support when ice issues emerge. A key priorityof the plan will ensure that “indigenous-specific” and “culturally appropriate” mainstream treatment services are more widely available.

The action plan also includes significant investment in rural and regional areas, where the taskforce found specialist treatment services were few to non-existent.

Former Victoria Police commissioner Ken Lay, who has led the taskforce set up in April last year, has been clear in his view that primary prevention, rather than law enforcement, is a better response to a social issue like ice.- with Sun-Herald

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