ReGen seminar hears community, sector concerns with AOD treatment reforms (04/05/15)

Melbourne, VIC, 4th May 2015 – Participants in UnitingCare ReGen’s Innovation in Action seminar provided a clear and wide ranging critique of the current reforms to the Victorian alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment sector. Key issues raised by consumers, service providers and sector leaders during the event related to the accessibility, consistency and effectivenes of the current treatment system.

Key issues raised by consumers, service providers and sector leaders during the event included:

  • Tight implementation deadlines for the new system have contributed to poor communication of the changes to people who use treatment services, service providers in other sectors and the wider public;
  • Capacity issues within the new centralised intake system are contributing to significant delays between people seeking help and commencing treatment;
  • Whilst the shift of resources to growth corridors is helpful to address population growth and emerging trends, there is concern that this has resulted in loss of services in areas of continued high demand;
  • The current intake system may be increasing treatment access barriers within some communities or particularly vulnerable groups;
  • Current service models are too focussed on providing short-term interventions and do not allow for the longer-term supports needed by many people recovering from AOD dependence;
  • While improvements in consistency of service delivery across the state is important, current implementation of the new treatment system is overly prescriptive and limits the capacity of experienced AOD workers to exercise considered clinical judgement;
  • Greater flexibility is needed within the current system to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of AOD treatment in Victoria; &
  • While Minister Foley acknowledged the need for stability within the AOD sector, action needs to be taken to address the emerging disconnect between the new system and those services (such as targeted youth programs & residential withdrawal) that are yet to undergo reform.

ReGen CEO, Laurence Alvis said:

It’s clear that we still have much to do as a sector to ensure that our services are easily accessible for the people who need them most and that the supports we can provide are responsive to the often complex (and typically interrelated) needs of people affected by alcohol and other drug use.

Today’s discussion has highlighted some of the barriers that need to be addressed, but also much of the work that is already underway to improve the new service system. The reform process has the potential to achieve real improvements, but we need more advocacy by service providers and the people who use those services, to ensure that we can achieve the best possible outcomes for individuals, families, Government and all Victorian communities.

Based on today’s discussion, we recommend the following actions for the Victorian Government, the Department of Health and Human Services and providers of funded treatment services:

  • Remove requirements for use of the current (and overly detailed) mandated screening tool to determine people’s eligibility for AOD treatment services upon their first contact with the intake system;
  • Develop appropriately resourced opportunities for meaningful consumer involvement in the ongoing improvement of the new system;
  • Improve the availability of interim support services for people waiting to enter treatment ; &
  • Communicate more clearly (and more widely) key elements of the new treatment system to consumers, other service sectors and the wider community.

Ends

For further information or comment please contact Laurence Alvis (03 9384 8800) or Media Contact Paul Aiken (0435 875 818).