Has government left us to fight the ice epidemic on our own?
AFTER being left off the State Government's list of ice summits across regional Queensland last year, the Bundaberg region's fight against the life-destroying drug has seemingly been ignored in this week's State Budget.
The revelation comes following news that the Federal Government yesterday allocated an immediate $11 million to fight ice in the Caboolture and Bribie Island regions.
Part of that funding will be used to provide a new, 20-bed drug rehabilitation centre for Caboolture, in the Longman electorate, where a by-election will be held on July 28.
Rockhampton, the first regional city to host one of the State Government's ice summits, has received a $1 million boost for a new $9.5 million Rockhampton Drug and Rehabilitation Facility.
This is despite Rockhampton Regional Council data from last year stating the city's population was at 81,446 - compared to a population of 94,453 recorded in the Bundaberg Regional Council area in 2016.
Integrated Wellbeing Centre (IWC) communications manager Janette Young said Bundaberg had once again been made the poor relation.
"It is disappointing for the community, which has spoken as a single voice around the issue of ice and other drugs, that Bundaberg region has been passed over for a residential rehabilitation facility in this budget,” she said.
"Let's face it, the voice of the community has been loud and consistent about this need since 2016, but the Palaszczuk Labor Government does not seem to want to listen.”
Ms Young said the IWC would raise the issue with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad at today's Bundaberg Region Presentation in Brisbane.
"Our region is identified by government as one of the most disadvantaged in Australia, with 82.6 per cent of the population identified by the government's only SEIFA (Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas) measurement as Very Disadvantaged or Disadvantaged,” she said.
"The Bundaberg community has been fighting long and hard for a residential rehabilitation facility in our region.
"In 2016, the Bundaberg Region Community Ice Forum was held, involving more than 80 delegates from 46 organisations. These included frontline operations such as police, ambulance, schools, alcohol and drug services, Bundaberg Hospital, domestic and family violence services, welfare agencies, as well as health professionals, the Primary Health Network, community groups and business.
"Solutions were brainstormed at this workshop-style forum, which was co-facilitated by Queensland Health's director of statewide clinical support services for alcohol and drugs, and the CEO of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies (QNADA) Rebecca MacBean.
"Each delegate had equal voting, and the overwhelming decision made by the forum was that Bundaberg region needs a residential rehabilitation facility.”
Member for Bundaberg David Batt said he was disheartened by the lack of state funding.
"The only mention of a rehab facility is a 42-bed facility for Rockhampton, for those who live in central Queensland,” he said.
"This is very disappointing, especially since the LNP committed to building four rehab centres across regional Queensland, including one here in the Wide Bay.
"I am determined to continue the fight to get a rehab centre in the Wide Bay to help those who are struggling with this surge of ice addiction in our region.”
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said residential rehabilitation was a State Government responsibility and that the Palaszczuk Government had ignored the region's plight.
"The Coalition Government is, however, concerned about the impact ice is having on individuals, families and communities, which lead to the National Ice Action Strategy being established,” he said.
"Almost $7 million has been funded through the Central Queensland Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast PHN for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services (under the National Ice Strategy) in Hinkler.”
A spokesman for the treasurer's office said funding had been allocated in the State Budget for the Action on Ice plan to "address use and harms caused by crystal methamphetamine” in Queensland.