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Report confirms too many seeking help are falling through cracks

Posted 20 November 2015

Friday 20 November 2015

With the independent review into Victoria’s alcohol and other drug (AOD) and mental health community support services today revealing a 21 per cent drop in drug treatment service contacts and a 19 per cent reduction in mental health support packages, it is clear the current system isn’t working and some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks.

Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) CEO Tom Symondson said the VHA had for a long time voiced concerns and called for an independent review of the assessment and intake system that was failing too many people seeking AOD and mental health support.

“The unintended consequences of the 2014 changes have seen people needing help being turned away at the door and asked to call their regional assessment centre before even being considered for treatment,” Mr Symondson said.

“There is a very small window for engaging and providing help to someone in need and we must ensure we provide support to every one of them in a timely manner.

“We have heard numerous stories on the ground from our members of people falling through the cracks and this report confirms the stark realities that the current system is failing too many people who have taken brave step to seek help.

“We urge Minister Foley to accept the report’s recommendation to restore the ability of a local health service to get those highly vulnerable people who show up at their doors into the system so they can be assessed and treated as quickly as possible.

“This will mean there is no wrong door; ensuring people can be assessed and receive the treatment they need at the right time in the right place.

“We look forward to the Minister’s response to the report’s recommendations and working in partnership with the government and the health sector to implement improvements that will have tangible benefits to the lives of vulnerable Victorians and their families.”

Mr Brown’s story

Mr Brown lives in rural Victoria, relies on a support pension and has a substance addiction. After taking the brave step to seek help, Mr Brown was required to pay out of his own pocket to travel 100km for his assessment, after which he waited two weeks without contact before receiving any response or AOD treatment.

Previously Mr Brown would have contacted his local AOD service provider and received support and treatment within 72 hours.

*Mr Brown’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

Media contact: Rachel White – 0438 815 561 rachel.white@vha.org.au

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