HEARING tales on the effects of drug addiction was the catalyst for Warrnambool city councillor Sue Cassidy’s crusade to get a drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre for the south-west.
During the council election campaign, one of Cr Cassidy’s main platforms was to push for improved rehabilitation services.
Cr Cassidy said her light bulb moment came while listening to two reformed ice addicts speak at the Ice Challenge, a community forum into proactively dealing with the issue of drug abuse.
“One gentleman told the story how he had to be in his mum and dad’s home and that is how he got off ice, his mother and father locking him in the house and having to deal with it themselves.
“I was sitting there thinking this is crazy, we need somewhere down here people can go to. There is Geelong and Ballarat coming up but the problem with those two places is you are away from your family and don’t have that support and that is one of the biggest things.”
Cr Cassidy has suggested a community fundraising campaign could be put in place to raise the estimated cost of $2.3 million to build the centre, similar to the Peter’s Project campaign that helped build the South West Regional Cancer Centre in Warrnambool.
This week, Western Region Alcohol and Drug centre (WRAD) used its annual general meeting to announce it has, and will continue to, dedicate resources to the fight to get a drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre for the south-west.
WRAD service development consultant Dr Lynda Berends said evidence collated so far suggests there is a need for a residential rehabilitation centre.
“While it is difficult for all clients to get a place in residential rehabilitation, one could argue that it’s more difficult for those from this area,” Dr Berends said.
“The distance to services is compounded by the shortage of places. You could certainly mount an argument for a local service.”
Figures produced by Dr Berends show there are just 230 alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation beds in Victoria with plans for a 20-bed facility in Ballarat.
The difficulty of getting access to these limited bed spaces is shown with just two of 421 admissions to Odyssey House rehabilitation centre in Melbourne in 2015-16 from the south-west.
Alcohol remains the drug associated with the most presentations for rehabilitation in the south-west.
Alcohol makes up 43.9 per cent of these presentations with cannabis next at 26.2 followed by amphetamines at 24.2.
Dr Berends said residential rehabilitation provides the most intensive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
“This form of treatment is quite intense,” Dr Berends said. “It is not for everyone, but can be very helpful when people with serious and long-standing problems haven’t been able to address those problems in other treatment types.”