Streamlining of drug, alcohol treatment facilities for Grampians region

BALLARAT drug and alcohol treatment facilities will be forced to cover larger areas without extra funding under a plan to streamline services.

The state government initiative will see those seeking help forced to use an assessment office before receiving assistance.

Grampians Alcohol and Drug Consortium, comprising Ballarat Community Health, and the Grampians UnitingCare Consortium, will take over each step of care except the intake process.

UnitingCare Alcohol and Other Drugs unit manager Peter Cranage said the new system would make things easier for patients.

"All new intakes are assessed by (the Australian Community Support Organisation), so they won't have to tell their story again and again," he said.

But several positions have been lost as the intake responsibilities have moved from within existing services.

"We've lost a few staff members, because we lost a few services," Mr Cranage said.

Three positions were made redundant and two new roles were created. 

Ballarat Community Health client manager Jane Measday said the organisation also had to "reorganise" its drug and alcohol services.

"We've had to work together (with other community health centres) to provide services over a bigger area," she said.

BCH lost one staff member through a voluntary redundancy, and Ms Measday said it was being "clever" with funding after losing intake and assessment funding.

The new system will see patients first assessed by the ACSO and then put in the program closest to their needs.

Funding will continue in its current block format for another 12 months, but will then change into a payment-for-services system.

"This means we get paid when we see someone, and people using drug and alcohol services often don't turn up to appointments, so some extra pressure will be there," Mr Cranage said.

The state government described the changes as streamlining services and funding.

"By collapsing 20 funding streams into five, we are reducing red tape for providers of treatment services so they have the flexibility and time to support people needing treatment," Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said.

alex.hamer@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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