Wodonga needs 'significant slice' of $34m fund to fight ice

Bill Tilley

Bill Tilley

MEMBER for Benambra Bill Tilley says a “significant slice” of the $34 million promised to fight Victoria’s ice epidemic needed to be directed to Wodonga.

The drug and alcohol services funding, part of which will be allocated to the Hume region, will be announced in the May 6 budget and be paid over four years.

Rehabilitation facilities, day programs and early intervention services will receive $30.9 million, while $3.1 million will be directed to six rural hospital emergency departments.

Details of how much will go to Hume and where in the large region were not yet released.

“We need a great share of that funding to be distributed here,” Mr Tilley said.

“We know this because of the people who have stepped up to the plate to say we have an ice problem in Wodonga.”

A State Parliament inquiry into methamphetamine visited the city in February, with users and service providers telling the dark story of the drug’s impact.

Mr Tilley said it was most likely the funding would go towards home-based treatment, with a rehabilitation facility too expensive.

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said the outcome of the inquiry and a Benalla forum into the drug confirmed the need for services in the region.

“Bill Tilley, Tim McCurdy and I will be lobbying hard to make sure our locally identified needs have been met,” he said.

“When people make the decision to kick their habit, it’s important that services are available for them and they’re not put on a waiting list for four to six weeks.

“Many of these people can and do and resume their lives as being contributing and valued members of our community.”

Dr Sykes said he hoped a withdrawal unit would be funded for people to go to before entering Benalla’s rehabilitation facility Odyssey House, Circuit Breaker.

He said a combination of the two were need to treat the “heartbreaking” problem destroying many of his constituents’ lives.

Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said the Hume region had been chosen because historically there has been an under-investment in drug and alcohol treatment services in the area.

“(It will) make sure that no matter where you live, you can access treatment, support and services in your area,” she said.

“We know that ice can make people display very aggressive behaviours, putting people and communities at risk, so we are better equipping emergency departments to be able to address the issue.”

Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy was not available for comment.