Vulnerable locals left hanging as funding for alcohol and drug support service is delayed
Without adequate funding, Murray Bridge's alcohol and other drugs support service may cease.
This post advocating for local people is free to read. Please help Murray Bridge News tell more local stories by subscribing.
Some of our community’s most vulnerable people face yet another obstacle as critical funding for alcohol and drug support services continues to be delayed.
In April, the previous federal government committed around $343 million over four years to help reduce the impact of ice, other drugs and alcohol, under an extension of the National Ice Action Strategy.
Among the organisations set to receive funding was the Murray Mallee GP Network, which operates a support service in the Murraylands.
However, it has not received any of the money yet.
Clinical services manager Lisa Courtney said the lack of funding could end the service.
“In rural communities, there is a lack of trust due to services constantly coming and going,” she said.
“This impacts help-seeking considerably, further enforcing alcohol and drug use.
“There is potential that more entrenched behaviour will result over time in the need for increased funding and more commitment from government.
“In a metro area, a delay in funding would mean that clients would have to go elsewhere, however they would still be able to access a service.
“This is not the case for our community.”
In support of the GP network and two organisations in his electorate, federal MP Tony Pasin called for the funding’s immediate release by the new government.
“Since 2016, the National Ice Action Strategy has helped thousands of people gain access to treatment programs and supported communities across Australia to tackle local drug and alcohol issues with local solutions,” he said.
“These programs have made a real difference to people’s lives.
“To have these programs cease would leave a substantial service gap in these communities.”
In response, federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said the government considered the program a “priority”.
“Organisations should feel confident that funding will be honoured,” he said.
“The Department of Health and Aged Care is working to progress funding arrangements as quickly as possible, consistent with requirements under the Commonwealth grant rules and guidelines.
“The Albanese government acknowledges the significant role (alcohol and other drug) services have in the community.”
A date for the funding’s release was not disclosed.
You can help keep local stories like this one free for everyone to read. Subscribe to Murray Bridge News today and support your independent, locally owned news service, plus get access to exclusive stories you won’t find anywhere else, from just $5 a month.