ReGen welcomes new Victorian treatment funding announcement (01/05/17)

Melbourne, VIC, 1st May, 2017 – UnitingCare ReGen today welcomed the Andrews Government’s announcement of $81 million new funding for alcohol and other drug treatment services within this week’s 2017/18 Victorian Budget.

Responding to the announcement of initiatives to increase the capacity of residential rehabilitation services, recruit additional Aboriginal Health Workers and expand sector capacity to provide treatment services for people on community based corrections orders, ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said:

This is an important step forward for the Victorian alcohol and other drug sector.

The commitment of new funding to expand our capacity to meet community demand for treatment and support services addresses longstanding issues about the accessibility of publicly funded services, especially in regional areas.  But there is still more to be done.

The Andrews Government’s recent investment in Victoria’s first Mother and Baby Withdrawal Service was a breakthrough in removing treatment access barriers for women with babies and infants, but the impacts of the announced increase in residential rehabilitation capacity will be limited if there is not a corresponding increase in withdrawal service capacity.

Withdrawal is typically the first stage of someone’s treatment for alcohol and other drug dependence and a pre-requisite for entry into a rehabilitation program.  Without addressing the current access issues to withdrawal services around the state, there is a real risk that bottlenecks at the withdrawal stage will reduce effectiveness of any increases in post-withdrawal sector capacity.

We also know that waiting times for access to counselling services is a significant concern for individuals and families seeking support, particularly amongst those who are unable to attend appointments during business hours due to work or family commitments. 

While we commend the Andrews Government for its commitment to addressing sector capacity and service accessibility concerns, we need a comprehensive, systemic approach to ensuring that vulnerable and marginalised Victorians are able to get the support they need, when they need it.