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Call for drug funding

Don Jones
南京夜网

DRUG use in the North-West needs a faster state government response, including rehabilitation beds, or it risks letting methamphetamine use escalate in the region, according to retired magistrate Don Jones.

Mr Jones yesterday said the state government’s current approach to addressing the region’s drug use problem could take two to three years, which was unacceptably long.

“We’re talking about the lives of Tasmanians, the impact on families,” he said.

The government on Thursday released its report on the North-West’s drug use and services, which strongly recommended a residential rehabilitation facility was established in the region.

However Health Minister Michael Ferguson said afterwards the government “would look at progressing” more rehabilitation beds in the North-West, saying that the recommendation had “funding implications” and citing the government’s budget.

While Mr Jones acknowledged the government had budget constraints, he said it could fund a few rehabilitation beds in the North-West now.

“[It] may be worthwhile to get things under way. [The beds] can be absorbed into current establishments.

“That can be done now without any great impact on the budget.”

He questioned whether budget figures should be held above people’s lives and health.

The drug problem would get worse with inaction, he said.

The government needed to commit to funding a North-West rehabilitation service, even if it did so promising to provide this in the future, Mr Jones said.

Mr Ferguson was making excuses by referring to the government’s budget, according to Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation CEO Di Baldock.

“If they’re going to say they’re going to do something about it, they’ve got to stop procrastinating,” she said.

“If [drug use] gets out of hand, what are they going to do then?

“I think they will be shocked in two years’ time. That’s not just for Circular Head. It’s right across the North-West Coast.”

She said the government appeared to be suggesting drug use in the North-West was not an important issue.

Opposition leader Bryan Green said Mr Ferguson had ignored his own drug report and the government must act on its recommendations immediately.

“They’re being deceptive. Their solution to everything is another committee or report. Then when you get the report you ignore it and say in time we’ll address these things.”

Mr Ferguson yesterday denied the government hadn’t made addressing drug use a priority.

The government was immediately delivering on recommendations to upskill frontline service providers and map services across the state, particularly in the North West, to inform the development of a plan to improve services, he said.

“We commissioned this report, we’ve met with stakeholders and engaged with the community.”

He said he had been the first health minister willing to investigate and acknowledge the North-West’s drug services gap and had publicly released the report.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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