Local Drug Treatment Services Abandoned By The Coalition

Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have called on the Turnbull Government to end the funding uncertainty that threatens local alcohol and illicit drug treatment services.


This morning the CEO of Wollongong-based alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre Watershed, Will Temple, warned that the future of the service was in jeopardy.


He has seen a 150 per cent increase in people presenting for help over the past four years, including treatment for crystal methamphetamine or “ice” addiction.


Stephen Jones said that the federal Coalition’s mismanagement of drug and alcohol treatment services needed to be addressed urgently.


“Will Temple and his team are doing their best with one arm tied behind their back. The Coalition is cutting almost $800 million from health funds, which includes funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment.


“On top of that, services like Watershed were only guaranteed federal funding for this current financial year at the very last minute. That pattern is set to repeat itself, with the Government refusing to provide long-term funding security.


“As a result Watershed and many others services just like it are having difficulty retaining experienced staff and planning for the future.  Will Temple’s team are in the same situation as other workers on the frontline right across Australia and they deserve better.


“Recently, a former bikie and now Christian pastor, Matthew Craddock, revealed that he had to wait three months before getting treatment for ice addiction. Waiting times like this are set to worsen if Watershed isn’t given the funding it desperately needs.”


Sharon Bird said that the Government’s priorities were all wrong.


“Watershed is one of the region’s most established drug and alcohol treatment services, we cannot afford to lose it.


“The situation in the Illawarra is acute. The Coalition has found money for a ‘dob in a dealer’ hotline and a $20 million graphic TV ad campaign, yet somehow services like Watershed aren’t important enough to guarantee long-term survival.”