MILDURA Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) chair, and Mildura Councillor, Simon Clemence, will meet with Victorian Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Emma Kealy, today to present a business case for the proposed Mildura Alcohol and Other Drug Rehabilitation facility.

Cr Clemence will meet with Ms Kealy and Member for Mildura Peter Crisp to discuss LDAT’s need to secure $4.6million to construct a purpose-built, 12-bed residential drug rehabilitation facility in the region.

The business case was formulated based on research conducted by LDAT in conjunction with Northern Mallee Community Partnership and 360 Edge Consulting, including forums for the public and health practitioners held in February this year.

The report, prepared by Professor Nicole Lee, PICTURED, found that Mildura has a higher than average rate of drug offences, alcohol assaults, alcohol and other drug episodes of care, AOD-related ambulance attendances and alcohol-related family violence compared to the rest of Victoria.

In analysing the community’s capacity to help reduce these issues, and help people recover from addiction, the report identified a Residential Rehabilitation Unit as a missing piece of the local service sector for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

“Professor Nicole Lee’s report identifies that a local residential rehabilitation unit really is the missing piece of the puzzle in terms of our system of care,” Cr Clemence said. “We intend to keep lobbying both State and Federal politicians – we’ve got a strong case for action.”

The Mildura Alcohol and Other Drug Rehabilitation facility missed out on funding in last week’s Victorian Budget, which was handed down by the Andrews Labor Government.

Cr Clemence said having no access to a residential withdrawal facility located within 400km of Mildura creates “significant barriers” for those hoping to access and successfully complete rehabilitation.

“With the nearest facilities located in Adelaide, Bendigo and Melbourne, covering costs and access to transport to attend residential rehabilitation is a barrier that many struggle to overcome,” he said.

“In addition, for those who manage to access these distant recovery centres, relapse is more likely because elements critical to long-term recovery, such as the education of, and support from families is difficult over these long distances.”

Ms Kealy said the Andrews Labor Government was allowing the use of Ice in its drug injecting rooms instead of supporting the Mildura community in its “hard-fought campaign” to get a better drug treatment service.

“Labor should be working with our country communities to get this insidious drug out of local people’s lives and off our streets,” she said.

Cr Clemence said that investment in a residential drug rehabilitation centre will not only help those in the Mildura community struggling with addiction and their families, it also makes good economic sense.

“A recent report from the Drug Policy Monitoring Project estimated that for every $1 invested in alcohol or drug treatment, society gains $7 in reduced future health care costs, reduced demands on the justice system and increased productivity of individuals,” he said.

Mr Crisp said a residential drug rehabilitation facility in Mildura would provide another avenue to address Ice in the community.

“I commend the Local Drug Action Team on the work they have undertaken to develop a case for a facility here,” he said.