WA Drug Abuse Strategy Minister Rhonda Parker has rejected Opposition criticisms that the Government had a 'head-in-the-sand approach to the drugs issue’.
“Clearly that view was not supported by an independent report released by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) earlier this month, which rated Western Australia as first in the country out of all States and Territories, for having a clear strategy to address drug problems”, the Minister said.
“The State Government’s performance was also rated first for ensuring that programs are provided to reduce and prevent drug abuse and for involving communities in programs to address local problems.
“The State Government has a very comprehensive, multifaceted and well funded strategy in place to respond to the drug problem.”
“Over the last two financial years, we have increased funding for drug related services by 42 per cent to bring it from approximately $24 million in 1996/97 to $34 million in 1998/99.
“Our strategy against drug abuse includes responses through education, health, law enforcement, community support and community action.
“It is important to remember that there is no simple solution and that the Government will never be able to solve the drug problem on its own. We need strong community involvement in our fight against drug abuse and that is an important component of our strategy.
“The most effective way to stop people with a drug abuse problem from committing crimes is to get them into treatment.
“Since the release of the Together Against Drugs strategy in June 1997, we have increased funding for treatment services by more than $3 million per year.
“We have eliminated any waiting list for methadone treatment, by including GPs and Drug Aware Pharmacies into the program.
“The number of people on the methadone program has increased from 1,000 to 2,400 since 1997.
“We have established a network of 11 Community Drug Service Teams, more residential beds, more day treatment places and are implementing the recently announced trials of naltrexone and bupronorphine.
“Rather than criticising the Government, the Opposition ought to have a close look at their own policies, which include shooting galleries and the cultivation and possession of 5 cannabis plants per adult per household.
“I am of the strong view that recently announced ALP drug polices would worsen the drug problem in Western Australia.
“To make currently illicit drugs more available will increase use and abuse and therefore increase the hurt in families and the community.”
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