South West Coast MP Roma Britnell has slammed Warrnambool City Council’s decision not to support The Lookout residential rehabilitation centre at Dennington.

Mrs Britnell said its position was disappointing and “seems to have been made while not taking into consideration all the information about the proposed centre”.

She said a rehab centre was the region’s “missing link” for addiction recovery services.

“There is a predetermined image of a drug user as being a criminal, using illicit substances like ice and heroin, but the reality is, the use of those drugs makes up a very small percentage of people with an addiction in our community,” she said.
Roma Britnell.

“The largest addiction problem this community has is with alcohol – 44 per cent of people being treated through existing services are being treated for alcohol addiction.”

Mrs Britnell said addiction to prescription medication was another major concern.

“The new state government prescription monitoring system Safe Script, which was rolled out in Western Victoria six months ago, has already identified 4500 people who are visiting multiple clinics and pharmacies in an effort to secure often-addictive prescription medications,” she said.

“Let’s be very clear – this centre will not just cater for users of illicit drugs. The Lookout will cater for people who have found themselves addicted to substances – legal and illegal – who want to make a change and break that cycle.”

She said she understood people were apprehensive about a centre being located near their homes and understand those concerns.

“Drug use and addiction is already happening in our streets and in our neighbourhoods. It could be happening in the house next door,” she said.

“It is important to note that people who are using the centre will have already been through detox programs, they will not be using drugs or alcohol and will not be withdrawing from drugs or alcohol at the proposed centre. A residential rehabilitation centre has strict controls and guidelines. My information is there is no correlation between a residential rehab centre and an increase in crime.”

She said residential rehabilitation was the missing link in drug and alcohol services in the region.