CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
STATE LABOR CANDIDATE FOR ADELAIDE
TURNBULL MUST BOOST RESIDENTIAL REHABILITATION SERVICES
Instead of stigmatising welfare recipients and ignoring health experts, Malcolm Turnbull must ensure that alcohol and other drug treatment services are available to every Australian who seeks help.
Federal Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King and state Labor candidate for Adelaide Jo Chapley today visited the Salvation Army’s ‘Towards Independence’ service in Adelaide.
The service helps people recover from alcohol and other drug issues by providing detoxification and residential rehabilitation services. But like similar services across Australia, it simply cannot keep up with demand.
Residential services aren’t appropriate or necessary for every help-seeker, and the Government must also invest in prevention and early intervention. But reports indicate that there are 32,000 requests a year for Australia’s 1,500 residential rehabilitation beds. As a result, waiting times for residential services are several months on average, and up to six months in some cases. This causes help-seekers to miss out on vital services, or to seek treatment in the expensive and poorly regulated private sector.
While the Government’s Ice Strategy is welcome, Senate Estimates has revealed that just six of 31 Primary Health Networks are commissioning residential rehabilitation services under the Strategy. The Strategy does not include any new residential rehabilitation beds in South Australia – despite the fact that the state has just one bed for every 35,000 people.
Rather than boosting treatment services, the Turnbull Government is focussed on demonising vulnerable Australians. Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to drug test welfare recipients flies in the face of advice from health experts – including more than 600 health professionals who signed an open letter against the policy.
Today’s visit is another reminder that Mr Turnbull must stop playing politics and commit to meeting the treatment needs of help-seekers around Australia.