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Question Time - Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services

My question is directed to the Minister for Health. In December 2022 the Kedesh residential drug and alcohol rehab facility closed in Mona Vale. I am sure the Minister does not think it is acceptable that we have no public sector rehab in northern Sydney, forcing patients to travel out of area for treatment while the Kedesh facility sits very, very empty—in fact, some patients even have to drive to Wagga. What is the Government doing to restore residential drug and alcohol rehab services on the northern beaches and in northern Sydney?

Mr RYAN PARK (KeiraMinister for Health, Minister for Regional Health, and Minister for the Illawarra and the South Coast) (12:29): I thank the member for his question. More importantly, I thank him for his advocacy. I also thank the many people from across the political divide who have advocated for improved drug and alcohol services across New South Wales. The closure is a significant challenge, but I thank the member personally for his advocacy about this service. He is right. From memory, Kedesh came in place in about 2010 after it was allocated a grant from the then Government. From memory, it set up a unit called the Phoenix Unit, which was a facility designed to support people with drug and alcohol addiction and gambling addiction issues. In October last year unfortunately Kedesh advised the then Government that it could no longer run its service and in December the service ceased to operate. Since then the Government has been working with individuals needing that service to make sure that they can access drug and alcohol treatment services as close as possible to where they need them.

I emphasise that where a drug and alcohol service is located in New South Wales should not restrict the community it serves. That is very important for drug and alcohol treatment services, because not everyone wants to be treated in the community in which they live. That is something we should all be very aware of. At the moment there is a bit of a challenge in the northern beaches area. As part of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug 'Ice', leading on from the reforms taken on by the previous Government—and I acknowledge the former Premier, who is in the Chamber today—the Government has allocated about $500 million to boost drug and alcohol treatment services across New South Wales.

Around $146.7 million of that will be going into expanding drug and alcohol treatment services that are already in place, around $60 million will be put into treatment hubs and services designed to provide psychosocial support for those dealing with these issues, and around $50 million will be enhanced capital. The Government is looking at what specific services are needed on the northern beaches and developing existing services that are in place. I know that the member for Wakehurst has a strong interest in this issue—as he should, because these are very important services. [Extension of time]

As part of this funding, the Government will get the member, my office and the drug and alcohol team at NSW Health, which administers services in this space, to work through the gaps that we have identified. They can see whether they deal with what the member thinks the gaps are, and look at the services that we embed in his community, which we need to make sure has access to drug and alcohol treatment services. Drug and alcohol treatment services in the city are challenging, but they are exacerbated in the bush. I acknowledge that many members from regional, rural and remote New South Wales understand that the treatment spaces and services we need are in acute demand.

I thank the member for Wakehurst for his interest in this topic. We have to confront that issue, which many families and communities are already confronting. The Government will engage with the member. We are working on the ground to identify gaps and roll out an implementation plan. It is important that members across the political divide understand the services they have in their community, and make sure that, where possible, they are in touch with them so they can refer families on. The geographical location of those services is not defined by the clientele they can see. That is a very important point. I acknowledge the member's advocacy. The Government will continue to work with him as we improve drug and alcohol treatment services across the northern beaches.

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