Saturday, June 20, 2009

Teen drug rehab


Children with drug and alcohol addictions will "slip through the net" when the state's only residential rehabilitation program for young teenagers closes this month because of a lack of funds.
The state-appointed child safety commissioner has called on the Government to help save the program, in Melbourne's east, after donations dried up amid the global financial crisis and outpouring of aid to bushfire victims, or in other words no more free drug rehabs for teenagers.

Commissioner Bernie Geary, who advises the Government on the safety and wellbeing of children, said that unless the Government responded to the need of the Tandana Place program for 12 to 20-year-olds, vulnerable young people would "slip through the net". "They are the young people we find in prisons and abject and long-term homelessness," he said. "It has a ripple effect, it affects broader families. The community needs places like Tandana and it's in all our interests that it continues.
"The Government needs to be responding. It needs to have a look at what they (Tandana) are doing and understand they fill a niche that would otherwise not be filled."
Children as young as 13, many of them in state care, have sought help for addiction and mental health issues through the eight-to-16-week program, run by Waverley Emergency Adolescent Care.

The program has been a place of refuge for more than 220 young Victorians over the past decade, about half of whom first tasted alcohol or drugs at 12 or 13.
Program chief executive Maureen Buck said the post-detox residential facility, at Mount Waverley, would be forced to close on June 30, after the Government declined to fill a $100,000 shortfall in donations.

"Donations from January to now are something like $23,000, whereas this time last year we were close to our budget of $200,000," she said. "The State Government has to be really mindful of the duty of care, of what they're doing to the younger-age kids who for whatever reason are substance abusing — whether it's family breakdown, physical abuse or sexual abuse."

Ms Buck said 28 teens aged between 13 and 15 were among those who had received family therapy and meditation, job education and training, and harm minimisation strategies.
"What's going to happen to these kids? We've got about seven referrals sitting there waiting to come into the program and we've had to tell them we're shutting the doors. Some of these kids have started using alcohol when they're five or six. It's pretty devastating."
Separate foster care services would not be affected, she said.
The Department of Human Services provides about $87,000 a year to Tandana for referrals through the juvenile justice system. But it won't give the extra money to keep the program afloat. DHS spokesman Paul Heinrichs said: "The Government takes the view that this service can be provided and is being provided elsewhere."
After being contacted by The Sunday Age on Friday, the department sought a transfer for a current Tandana resident to Birribi, a residential rehabilitation program for older teens run by the Youth Substance Abuse Service.

The program, which caters for up to 15 young people at a time, is pitched at 16 to 20-year-olds.

"The view of the department is that there is a fairly low demand for this age group (12 to 16) in residential rehab and what demand there is can be met elsewhere in services that are underutilised," Mr Heinrichs said.
But Youth Substance Abuse Service executive director David Murray said young people could expect to wait between four and six weeks to enter Birribi. Closure of Tandana would increase pressure on the system, he said.


As you can see, those data about young drug addicts are not optimistic at all.

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