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Ice users in rural Victoria are travelling over 400 kilometres by bus to access rehabilitation services. The State Government has announced funding for improved drug treatment programs in pockets of the state, but withdrawal nurses say Victoria is not equipped to deal with the demand for methamphetamine treatment.
Crystal methamphetamine, or ice, is now the second most common illicit drug in Mildura. The community-based education campaign, Project ice, was launched last year to counter the drug's spread across the region.
But when it comes to treatment services for the users themselves, the options are thin on the ground.
Raelene Stephens, who facilitates the drug and alcohol unit at Mallee District Aboriginal Services, experiences the problem of distance with her clients. 'Distance adds the problem of how we're going to get them there,' says Ms Stephens.
She says the length of time away can also create problems that are culturally difficult for the Aboriginal community. 'It's a long period of time, three months generally to be away, there's a lot of things happening in the community...not to mention funerals there are a lot of social events that they want to be involved with,' Ms Stephens said.
This week the State Government announced funding to improve drug treatment services across the state.
The 34-million dollar package is aimed at improving community-based, residential and withdrawal services in Gippsland, the Grampians and Hume regions, but makes no mention of the yawning gap in services in the state's north-west.
Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Mildura - Swan Hill