The Tasmanian government has been urged to further invest in rehabilitation services after Victoria’s government announced significant funding to fight ice addiction.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews revealed on Friday that his government would commit $81 million to new facilities in its upcoming budget, to be handed down in May.
The funding will go towards the building of three treatment centres in regional Victoria, opening up rehabilitation beds.
Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government had already opened 12 new drug and rehabilitation beds in the state.
But Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said the state needed to take a creative and holistic approach if it wanted to stamp out ice addiction.
“It’s getting very, very bad here in Tasmania, and it keeps getting worse,” Senator Lambie said.
“We have some of softest repercussions in the country when it comes to drug dealers in Tasmania.
“We have a choice for early intervention and it needs to start hitting kids before they get to high school – kids these days are growing up a lot faster, you need to be in those primary schools from grades 5 and 6.”
Mr Ferguson said the government had committed an extra $4.8 million to opening the new beds.
“The Hodgman Liberal government recognises ice is a serious problem,” he said.
“In addition to employing an additional 113 frontline police officers to help keep ice and other illegal drugs off the street, we've increased the number of drug sniffer dogs to four.”
Tasmania has had a long-running problem with drug addiction, with some children now presenting to support services needing help, according to recent data.
Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania chief executive Debra Rabe said treatment facilities needed to be available when people with addictions came forward looking for help.
“I don’t know that we can afford $81 million, but there’s certainly a need in Tassie for more rehab beds and for more treatment for people with alcohol and drug issues,” Ms Rabe said.
“I still think alcohol is the number one issue and I don’t think that we’ve got an absolutely massive, out-of-control ice issue.
“We shouldn’t just be looking at treatment for people with ice addiction, we should be looking at treatment for people with alcohol and other drug issues.”