The Victorian Ombudsman has called into question the effectiveness of drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs for ex-prisoners in Victoria.
The Ombudsman has issued an inquiry into the experiences of those in contact with the justice system who have engaged, or sought to engage, with alcohol or drug rehabilitation, with the findings to potentially lead to a formal investigation.
Ballarat is recognised as one of many regional areas with a strong methamphetamine presence, but recovered ice addict turned psychotherapist Stuart Fenton said the state’s long-term treatment programs are inadequate.
Mr Fenton has worked with prisoners battling drug addiction and says the privatised nature of modern rehab clinics has led him to recommend New South Wales-based facilities as the best option for his patients.
He said key issues are the high demand placed on just the few long-term, government funded rehab facilities and the absence of long-term programs to prevent relapses.
“I’ve worked in a prison and for me personally, I do think there’s a problem (with treatment options),” he said.
“There were clients who said they desperately want to get into rehab straight from prison, but they just get lost in the process instead.”
“What we have in Victoria is a whole lot of private rehabs popping up like mushrooms. They’re not really delivering for what they charge.
“I tell them (patients) to go to rehabs in NSW where they’ll get the right treatments.
Earlier this year the state government announced a $57.6 million investment to tackle ice addiction as part of its Ice Action Plan.
The allocation includes $6 million for an 18-to 20-bed mental health facility in the Grampians region servicing the Ballarat community, as well as $118,000 for the Moorabool Drug Action Group to help curb addiction in Bacchus Marsh.
The Ombudsman’s inquiry follows a 2015 report into prisoner rehabilitation and community re-integration, which found that 75 per cent of male prisoners and 83 per cent of female prisoners reported previous illicit drug use. About 40,000 Victorians access alcohol or drug treatment services each year.
Submissions from the public and relevant organisations on the issue can be made before Friday, February 17.
Submissions can be made through the firstname.lastname@example.org email or by calling (03) 9613 6222 or 1800 806 314 (regional).