Eighteen residential drug rehabilitation beds have been announced by the State Government, and none of them will be located in the Murraylands.
As part of the State Governments’ $8 million Stop the Hurt program, Mount Gambier, the Riverland and Whyalla were announced as locations for the rehab beds by State Mental Health and Substance Abuse Minister Peter Malinauskas in Whyalla last week.
Residents from Murray Bridge and surrounding towns will be able to access additional outpatient treatment appointments in Mount Barker.
Mr Malinauskas said South Australians were rightly concerned about the prevalent use of drugs, particularly crystal methamphetamine, in regional areas.
“As part of our response to the findings of the Ice Taskforce, we promised to improve existing services by increasing access to treatment,” he said.
Rural City of Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis said the need for rehabilitation beds in the city is obvious, but that doesn’t mean Murray Bridge should get priority over similar rural areas.
“Murray Bridge and the Murraylands are almost statistically the same as nearly every other regional town around the state,” he said.
Mr Lewis couldn’t say he was disappointed the city wasn’t chosen, because he wasn’t aware of the process.
“If there was a program that we didn’t apply for or that we missed, that would be on us,” he said.
“If the decision was made without any consultation and someone just looked over the cities and signed off on it, then I would be very disappointed.”
Mr Lewis stressed the importance of plans around drug treatment and rehabilitation being developed by the Murray Bridge Safe group.
“Treatment and rehab centres have been brought up at past meetings and they were brought up again recently, so heading into the new calendar year, these plans are being prioritised,” he said.
The State Government is spending around $3.6 million in new alcohol and other drug services across the state, including methamphetamine treatment services for South Australians in rural areas.
The enhanced services will include the 18 new residential rehabilitation beds and 50 percent more non-government outpatient treatment appointments.
An additional 5000 outpatient counselling appointments through Uniting Communities and Life Without Barriers.