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Transcript of doorstop with Trevor Ruthenberg: Caboolture: 13 June 2018: $11 million boost for drug and alcohol support services in the Caboolture and Bribie Island region

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Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health



13 June 2018


Topics: $11 million boost for drug and alcohol support services in the Caboolture and Bribie Island region.

TREVOR RUTHENBERG: Okay folks, welcome to Caboolture, welcome to Longman. This is a wonderful day. We’re at Lives Lived Well here at Caboolture. Folks, drug and alcohol addiction ruins lives, it ruins families,\ and it’s an issue here in our community.

We can hide it away or we can shine a light on it and we can try and do something about it. And being a member of the community, having lived in it for a long time, we know it’s an issue. And I went pretty hard after this very early, and thankfully these guys were doing the same at the same time. And we’ve come up today- Greg’s come up today to announce what I think will be a fantastic outcome for many, many, many families in this region. So over to you, Greg.

GREG HUNT: Great. Thanks very much to Big Trev, to Mitchell, to Leah. Lives Lived Well is about saving lives and protecting lives. Today is also about saving lives and protecting lives. We know that ice, we know that other drugs of addiction, we know that alcohol can destroy lives.

They are associated with mental health issues. They can either cause or come from the tragedy and the pain and the agony that so many people feel. So, the work that Lives Lived Well does, I have to say to Leah and to Mitchell, could not be of more importance. And The Primary Health Network identified Caboolture as an area of real and profound need. Against that background, Trevor and Lives Lived Well have together put forward a proposal for additional detox and day rehab facilities and for residential rehabilitation facilities.

I am delighted to announce that the Federal Government will commit $11.1 million to Lives Lived Well for drug and alcohol rehab facilities here in Caboolture. That’s $3.6 million over three years for meeting demand, for day rehabilitation, and for detox facilities. Those funds will be available immediately from 1 July. Those funds will be available immediately. It’s not a promise for four or five year’s time, this is now and it’s a guarantee.

Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.

In addition to that, there will also be another $7.5 million for a 20 bed rehab facility for the more complex cases, for those people who are on the edge who need that support. A rehab facility in the community will allow them to be close to friends or family or simply the community with which they are comfortable. And that funding includes $3 million for capital and $1.5 million a year over three years for operation.

So, these are deep serious commitments. The Primary Health Network identified the needs of Caboolture. Trevor has already been the lion of Longman in making the case. He’s very hard to say no to. And when you combine his commitment and his history in working with community groups, and the work of Mitchell and Leah, and Lives Lived Well, it’s a pretty irresistible combination. So, I want to thank everybody involved. Perhaps Mitchell and Leah, you might want to say something.

MITCHELL GILES: Thank you very much, Minister. Live Lives Well provides services across Queensland and so we perhaps have a unique view of seeing problems across various communities. And they exist across all Queensland communities, but they’re very significant in the Caboolture region. The PHN identified that as recently as two years ago when it started to commission funding.

And we commissioned services for Lives Lived Well in Caboolture, Deception Bay, Redcliffe, and Strathpine. And one of the things they identified was, was greater usage of alcohol and other drugs in this region. They noticed that 20 per cent of people identified that they’d recently used illicit or illegal drugs to one in five, compared to a national average of 13 per cent.

The clients that we’re seeing, upwards of 50 per cent of them are identifying methamphetamine as the primary drug of concern. For our workers, they’re experiencing case loads twice what you’d normally experience. Referrals are twice- four times in fact, what we anticipated and have capacity for. So, the demand component of this funding will immediately see boots on the ground and see services delivered for people who need it.

The PHN also identified the absence of detox services particularly for mild to moderate withdrawal. We will immediately commence ambulatory detox services within the Caboolture region. And we’ve done that in Mackay and in Cairns. At the same time, people with significant drug and alcohol problems need intensive residential care and day rehabs. We will put those programs into this community.

And so, with this much needed boost in funding, it recognises the gaps in services, it also recognises the demand for services. And so what we’ll do is we’ll immediately commence services where they’ll be close to people on the ground, close to their supports and delivering good outcomes. But my story isn’t going to be as rich as Leah’s story. Leah is the manager of services in Brisbane North. And she can talk more about that.

LEAH TICKNER: So Lives Lived Well have been operating services in this region, Caboolture region, for around 18 months now, a little bit over that. And what we’ve seen is an absolute explosion of referrals. We’re seeing around 100 people a month over four offices. And what that tells me is that people want to seek treatment, they want to seek help.

The problem for us is that with seeking treatment for alcohol and other drugs, you need to engage those people immediately when they’re ready for change, otherwise they might either relapse or not seek treatment again for many years down the track when they’re in a far worse condition and we don’t want that. So, that’s the problem with our waitlists.

Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.

This welcome funding will help us to crush our waitlists and be able to engage people when they’re ready to change. So, I’m very excited about what we can do to help reduce stigma and to keep families together, and keep helping people to live their lives very well. Thank you.

GREG HUNT: Thank you. Happy to take any question about the project and the commitment, and then any other issues after that.

JOURNALIST: Yes, there’s a report in the paper today that kids as young as 10 in this area are struggling with drug addiction. What are your thoughts on that?

GREG HUNT: This is an absolutely shocking story and a shocking case study and I would urge the Queensland Government to take the hardest possible line to policing on the ground. It also shows that other drugs that are sometimes called softer can be a gateway drug to catastrophic addiction with ice.

For anybody of any age to be subjected to ice, and to have an ice addiction, can be physically and mentally destructive. But for a person under 18, as they’re in their evolution, and for a person who’s pre-teen, that is catastrophic. So the police should have the support that they need. The Queensland Police do a magnificent job but they have to have the support of the Queensland Government to give them the additional resources that our magnificent police need.

JOURNALIST: Do you think there needs to be more help, I guess, at a younger level at schools to help those kids steer away from drugs?

GREG HUNT: This is a very important thing. So education is a huge part of what we’ve got under the National Ice Action Strategy and the overall national alcohol and other drugs strategy. We have local drug action teams that we’re rolling out around the country. We also have support through the schools and sports programs and getting to people in the clubs, getting to young kids and teenagers. At the moment where there might be the pressure of a peer group or the opportunity of a bad seed who’s trying to infiltrate, is critical.

The parents, the coaches, the club managers are all engaging in these community programs, so our job is to help provide those community programs but then for those who have reached the point of addiction Lives Lived Well steps in. And I’ve got to say of all the programs I’ve had the privilege of seeing around the country, I’ve never seen a stronger or better program which is why we’re investing so heavily in it.

JOURNALIST: Minister, why did you choose Caboolture over say areas like Logan or the Gold Coast for this funding?

GREG HUNT: So this comes directly from the needs assessment of the Primary Health Network. So the Primary Health Network has done powerful deeply researched work. They had Caboolture at the top of their list. When you go to the needs assessment, I think pages 52 and 53, the need for detox facilities in this area is specifically addressed.

Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.

Of course it should have been done at state level. It hasn’t. So we’ve stepped in. The combination of Big Trev’s advocacy of the quality of the Lives Lived Well submission and the needs assessment of the PHN makes it clear. We know 93 per cent bulk billing rate here, up 3 per cent since we came into government, that’s doing well, but the drug and alcohol addiction is something that have to be addressed.

JOURNALIST: I guess given that there is a by-election do you understand why there might be some cynicism about the funding announcement now?


I think this is actually a very important question because what you’ve seen is a choice obviously between Mr Shorten who’s got a promise for four or five years in the future, and the Prime Minister Mr Turnbull who’s delivering immediate support now, but also a choice between candidates because this is not a topic we’ve heard anything from the former member for the area.

So really you have Shorten’s lamb in Longman or Longman’s lion in Canberra in Trevor. He stepped in and in his first week he argued, he made the case on merit and he made the case on humanity for why this was needed and that’s what a real advocate brings. They bring a voice to the region. You can either be a lamb or a lion, and Trevor’s a lion.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any figures on how many people this project will help?


So, what we’ve heard is already that this is likely to help, before the residential rehab facility, at least upwards of 500 a year and hopefully with the efficiencies in the way that Lives Lived Well operates it could be more, and then the residential rehab facility will be a 20 bed facility but people will have- you’ll have multiple people rotate through that area. Don’t know, Mitchell or Leah if you want to add anything.

LEAH TICKNER: Just that certainly we’ll immediately be able to get more clinicians on the ground, so that’s absolutely amazing, it’s fantastic, and I guess really what it’s serving is this community here and certainly the children coming up and the people who are already struggling with problematic substance use. So once the residential- the community has needed a residential rehab facility for some time, for a very long time, and so I’m really excited to see what that brings here and the outcomes that we can get.

JOURNALIST: Leah, can you run a story what you’ve seen in terms of young people and children?

LEAH TICKNER: I guess the funding age for youth is 12 to 25, and then we have adults 18-plus. Very young people don’t tend to come to our service voluntarily. What we do know is that the government hospital and the health service deals with very young people. Child & Youth Mental Health as well, and I guess what it says is that the problem is out there. We can’t ignore it unfortunately for people of any age and it’s getting younger.

JOURNALIST: Leah, what’s the youngest you’ve seen someone affected by ice?

Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.

LEAH TICKNER: In this- in Lives Lived Well, 12.

JOURNALIST: And how would you say over the last three years the problem of ice in Logan- sorry, the Caboolture community has been going, has it been getting worse - obviously up until now you’ll have more funding, but in the last three years how’s it been going?

LEAH TICKNER: I think what I will say is that we can comment on the people seeking help only, so there’s certainly been a massive increase in people seeking help where the primary drug of concern is methamphetamine.

JOURNALIST: When you see a kid as young as 12, I mean are they reacting similar to how adults would or how does it affect them at that young age?

LEAH TICKNER: No well look it affects them developmentally for sure, which is tragic. Being young we can obviously wrap services around them, we also work with families. It’s a very serious problem. We need our young people to receive that holistic help very early and developmental help, and so obviously the hospital and health service child safety, whoever needs to be involved is involved and wrapped around them as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST: Just a question from the side. When it comes to those children that you say or younger people who may not be coming in voluntarily, how are they going to get here then, you know, how they identify how they’re brought in to get that help that they so basically obviously need?

LEAH TICKNER: We don’t service under 12 but usually it’s the family member who’s already seeking help.

JOURNALIST: For those young kids, I mean is it often something that’s a problem in their family and that’s how they become involved in it?

LEAH TICKNER: Yes, is the short answer.

JOURNALIST: Alright, thank you.