Tuesday, 7 June 2022


Mildura electorate drug and alcohol services

Mildura electorate drug and alcohol services

Ms CUPPER (Mildura) (19:15): (6402) My question is for the Minister for Health, and the action I seek is for the minister to provide a briefing on Mildura’s major public healthcare projects, including but not necessarily limited to the master plan for the Mildura Base Public Hospital and the recently announced residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation and detox facility. We are very excited about the recent announcement of a residential drug and alcohol rehab and detox service in Mildura. For many years our community fought for this service, and there is no doubting the need for it. As I have said, Mildura has roughly twice the number of residents who are addicted to drugs and alcohol as Bendigo, despite having half the population. A local Indigenous elder recalled one Christmas-New Year period when she had to attend 10 funerals, all drug and alcohol related.

When the Mildura base hospital was brought back to public management I commented that it was not just a triumph for public health care but a triumph for democracy too. It showed that advocacy can work, and it showed that when a community stands up and makes a strong case, it is possible the government will listen. I can say the same for the drug and alcohol facility: when the announcement was made not only did it give families hope that help was on the way for their vulnerable loved ones but it also helped to restore their faith in the democratic process. I can say that the reaction to the funding announcement was spectacular. It was certainly the biggest response we have had to any state government funding announcement since the Premier committed to reclaiming Mildura base hospital in 2019.

I think one of the reasons that the people are so plugged into this issue of drug and alcohol rehab and so relieved that a facility is on the way is that, just like with cancer and many other health conditions, people in our community know that drug and alcohol addiction does not discriminate. They know that it could happen to anyone, and if there was ever an assumption that drug and alcohol addiction was something that just happened to other families, the assumption was well and truly put to bed by the sheer weight of evidence. Addiction can happen to people of any class, gender, postcode or educational background.

Although we have heard stories about other regions struggling to unite over services like this, from the very beginning the fight for a residential drug and alcohol rehab service in the Mallee has been one of consistent, unwavering, universal support. The upshot of this high level of community interest and engagement is that not a day goes by when I am or a member of my team is not asked about the progress of the hospital master plan or the process for the design and the implementation of our drug and alcohol rehab facility. The community is very keen to be involved and has an enormous amount of specialised local knowledge to contribute, and we would appreciate a briefing at the minister’s earliest convenience.