Minister says changes are for the better

Mary Wooldridge

Mary Wooldridge

MENTAL Health Minister Mary Wooldridge has defended the recommissioning of alcohol and other drug services.

"It's about people with an alcohol and drug issue getting the best possible support to deal with their addiction," Ms Wooldridge said during a visit to Bendigo on Wednesday.

"It's not about which service provider gets which funding to deliver which service.

"This is actually changing the lives and will change the lives of people with alcohol and drug addiction."

Ms Wooldridge's comments came after representatives from central Victorian community health services met with Bendigo Labor MPs Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards to discuss the recommissioning of alcohol and other drug services.

"Historically these service providers have been providing alcohol and other drug services, some of them for up to 30 years," Ms Allan said. "The government has embarked on a reformed program that has thrown all of that past practice and approach out the window.

"What they've done is they've forced organisations to come together and bid for the work they've already been doing. But in the process they've completely botched the tender process to the point that these service providers will not be providing the service they've been previously providing.

"So it's going to make it harder for clients and family members to find the services."

Ms Wooldridge said the changes were a reflection of an Auditor General's report in 2011 that said alcohol and drug treatment services were not effective in supporting people who needed treatment for addiction.

"What the change has enabled is firstly, that there's one intake and assessment," she said. "That can be done face to face, over the phone, via the internet, whatever works for the person who needs alcohol and drug treatment services.

"Then there's actually a choice of providers in this community where as always before there's only been one. That intake and assessment will enable not only the person with alcohol and drug addiction issues to come in a simplified and comprehensive assessment but directed to the best service ..."

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