10 May, 2024

No Budget funds for The Lookout

THE Lookout, a residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation centre proposed for Warrnambool, has once again missed out on state government funding – a decision that has left WRAD Health’s CEO “beyond disappointed.”

By Staff Writer

“I’m beyond disappointed that The Lookout has once again been overlooked in the 2024-25 Victorian State Budget but remain committed to making this essential, residential rehabilitation facility a reality,” Mr Powell said.

He believes the absence of this facility will cost lives and will continue to tear families apart.

“But I will not lose hope,” he said.

“The Lookout represents a beacon of hope for individuals struggling with addiction in south-west Victoria.

“With the support of government funding and community stakeholders, we can transform lives, strengthen communities and pave the way towards a brighter, healthier future for all.”

Mr Powell said he stands ready to continue these conversations so that instead of community disappointment again in 12 months’ time, we are sitting down with architects to make The Lookout a reality.

He added that he would continue working with the state government to ensure The Lookout was a reality in the 2025-26 State Budget.

“The need for a dedicated AOD Residential Rehabilitation facility in south-west Victoria has been evident for more than a decade,” Mr Powell said.

WRAD Health has been pursuing the development of The Lookout for more than seven years, driven by a comprehensive demand analysis that underscores the urgency for such a facility in the Great South Coast region.

It is well supported by a range of community services and community members, with more than $1 million pledged or donated to get this project off the ground.

The statistics paint a stark picture of the challenges faced by local communities.

According to Mr Powell, in 2023 WRAD Health’s AOD clinical services delivered 826 treatment episodes, with alcohol being the primary drug of concern for 53 per cent of cases.

Unfortunately, demand outweighs treat-ment provision.

Health perspective data from 2012-2021 showed there were 8,302 hospitalisations where drugs were the main reason for admission in Warrnambool, Southern Grampians, Glenelg, Corangamite and Moyne.

For a similar time period, there were 5,844 alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances across Warrnambool, Moyne, Glenelg, Corangamite and Southern Grampians.

Further, there were 2,173 deaths related to alcohol and illicit drugs within the Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Warrnambool areas.

“Criminality has also seen an increase,” Mr Powell added.

“In Warrnambool we have seen an overall 13.8 per cent increase in offending, with rates of family violence up 18.5 per cent higher than the state average, with women 81 per cent of the affected family members.”

Incidents involving assault are up, incidents involving breach of family violence orders are up and drug possession is up.

“The absence of a dedicated AOD Residential Rehabilitation facility exacerbates these issues, leaving individuals and families without access to the crucial support they need to overcome addiction,” Mr Powell said.

“Without proper intervention, the cycle of substance misuse perpetuates, leading to further strain on healthcare systems, law enforcement, and social services.”

The Lookout, spearheaded by WRAD Health, aims to address this pressing need by providing evidence-based, proven treatment in a supportive and therapeutic environment.

By offering comprehensive programs tailored to individual needs, including counselling, medical services, and supported accommodation, the facility will empower individuals to reclaim their lives and reintegrate into society without the need to return to substance use.

“Despite repeated calls and extensive efforts, the lack of commitment from government bodies to support the establishment of the facility is deeply concerning,” Mr Powell said.

“It’s imperative that stakeholders recognise the urgency of the situation and allocate the necessary resources to bring this vital project to fruition.”


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