Wodonga ice forum | Parents call for rehab unit, politicians offer lukewarm support

Benambra MP BIll Tilley.
Benambra MP BIll Tilley.

BORDER politicians have offered lukewarm support for an Albury-Wodonga drug rehabilitation unit, after a call from parents wanting more support to tackle ice addiction.

State MPs Bill Tilley and Greg Aplin said the community would have to show a genuine need for a drug help centre before they took the matter up with their respective governments.

They were responding to mothers and fathers, health professionals, councillors and police who attended a forum at Wodonga on Wednesday night that heard calls for better access to residential treatment.

Both Mr Tilley and Mr Aplin missed the forum as they were sitting in Parliament.

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said he would need to consult with government experts to assess the need before he took the issue to Parliament.

“It’s all very good to shout it from the tower,” he said.

“We have to go down there with a strong and solid business case and articulate the argument why establishing a facility in the North East is needed.”

Mr Tilley said there were already services in the North East for people who needed help, including access to home withdrawal and the soon to open Headspace.

But he said the idea had “merit” and he was open to discussing the issue further.

This included an idea, bought up by Albury Community Mental Health workers Alan Fisher and Carmen Colley at the forum, to have allocated beds at rehabs in Melbourne or Sydney.

Member for Albury Greg Aplin also said he was prepared to take the issue up if information pointed to the need, but questioned how it would be done.

“People are always going to ask for more funding, but where does the money come from?” he said.

“It will have to come from other programs. It’s always a balancing act.”

Mr Aplin said it was important to continue to fund education programs aimed at stopping people taking the drug in the first place.

“People choose to take drugs,” he said.

Albury mayor Kevin Mack told the forum politicians needed to lobby for more funding, while Wodonga’s Inspector Tony Davis wanted a rehab centre on the Border.

Some parents expressed anger at the long waits to get into rehab centres.

One mother said she’d spent more than $30,000 for treatment at a private centre for her child when she found no public beds available.