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VHA hopes review will address AOD/community mental health service gaps

Posted 21 July 2015

Tuesday 21 July 2015

The Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s recent decision to review the way alcohol and other drug (AOD) and mental health community programs are currently delivered in Victoria following the system reforms introduced in 2014.

VHA CEO Tom Symondson said the unintended consequences of the 2014 reforms had seen people requiring timely help falling through the cracks.

“Under the current system we are hearing too many cases of people like Mr Brown* waiting too long for treatment. 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,” Mr Symondson said.

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

“There is a very small window for engaging and providing help to someone like Mr Brown and we need to ensure we have a system that captures every single case in a timely way.

“This review will be an opportunity to ensure those issues are addressed and that the community support system, that is so important for identifying and helping some of our most vulnerable people, is fit-for-purpose and consumer-focused.

“I commend Minister Foley for listening to the sector on this issue and commissioning an independent review that looks at the gaps in both AOD and community mental health service provision and engages the clients, the carers and the service providers for improving the current system and informing a long-term strategic service plan.

“It is these groups who witness and experience the successes and the failures of our mental health and AOD services every day. They are best placed to meaningfully assess the way the system works in practice and provide creative and productive input for the development of a functioning system that ensures people who need help have access to high-quality and appropriate care.”

*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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