An extra $6 million from the Commonwealth Government will strengthen the ability of primary health care services to respond to ‘ice’ (methamphetamine) and other alcohol and drug issues in north western Melbourne. The funds will be managed by the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).
Associate Professor Chris Carter, who heads NWMPHN, welcomed the additional funding of $2 million per year for three years.
“Our first step will be to bring expert, frontline agencies together to help us identify gaps in existing primary health care services, and discuss the best ways to address these gaps,” A/Prof. Carter said.
“With this advice and our knowledge of alcohol and drug health care needs across our region, we can then work with service providers to fill the gaps and make sure services are available in areas of highest need. Ensuring that service staff have the required skills will be essential.”
Over the next 12 months, NWMPHN will also work collaboratively with health care providers to develop and trial new ways to address problems caused by ice, alcohol and other drugs. A public awareness campaign over the same period will advise people about risks and symptoms, and promote local services that are available to help.
Because some groups have limited access to services, NWMPHN will commission specific local services to address their needs. Vulnerable groups include young people, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ).
“A key part of our strategy will be to enable existing service providers to improve their skills and abilities to support people with alcohol and drug issues within the current scope of their practices,” A/Prof. Carter said.