Service accessibility FMP Drug and Alcohol services. Need for change. Need for recovery

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The idyllic Mornington Peninsula is for some the ultimate get away, the weekender or even the long-held dream location to live. However for others, the reality of daily struggles are too real. I work in this area as a community withdrawal nurse. My jobs is to enter homes and helps clients, families and others in achieving recovery and reducing the impact of alcohol, medication and substance use on their lives. I want to reach out to our community to make some noise, get noticed and finally get the services this community needs and deserves. Too often have I seen people not getting the services they need or deserve. With all these changes in government our community needs to ensure that we do not go unseen again. 

Despite it's beauty and iconic beaches the FMP catchment has a number of health and social issues such as mental health, family violence, vulnerable youth and families, and homelessness which have complex relationships with alcohol and substance use. 

According to the strategic planning report 2014-2018, Homelessness Program in 2015 identified that 100% of their clients used alcohol or other drugs. 
Turning Point and Ambulance Victoria research project 2012/13 identified that Frankston had the highest number of ambulance call-outs in the state for incidents involving: anti-depressants, opioid analgesics, antipsychotics and Frankston was the second highest for Cannabis, Benzodiazepine and other analgesics. During this time Frankston rated in the top 6 of all local government agencies for every substance category apart from heroin. 
Our emergency department presentations related to alcohol use increased from 134 in 2003 to 342 in 2012 with a 155% increase in demand. 
Frankston hospital has the highest rate of hospital admissions relations to alcohol use in Victoria and the third highest rates of hospital admissions for illicit substance and pharmaceuticals. The strategic plan for 2019 is currently being worked on and I assure you these trends are not reducing. 

Despite the increase in alcohol, medication and other drug trends, the support services in our local community are lacking. This is not a reflection of the hard working service providers but more a reflection of high demand and no supply. I have seen community members voice their frustration and express their anger about waiting lists towards drug and alcohol services; just an FYI there are only 3 counsellors for the entire Southern Peninsula area. Most clinicians are at capacity and working desperately to find other ways of supporting community needs.  
Our community does not have any residential withdrawal services. Without the timely ability to access residential services, our community has no choice but to present to local emergency departments and crisis services.  Despite access to state wide services, our closest is based in Dandenong. With our public transport system the way it is, for most people this is not possible to access. Now imagine you are in withdrawal, scared and trying to find a way to access service which seem worlds away. 

Our waiting list for intake, counselling and support is lengthy, with one of the longest in VIC. Imagine your family member, loved one, boss, sister, mother etc has an addiction problem and seeking support. Now imagine being told the wait for this could take months. Imagine feeling there is no way to help and no where to turn. This is the reality for many community members in our beautiful FMP. This is not a reflection on the incredibly busy and hard working intake team, but more a reflection of no capacity, limited staff and resources to answer to demand. 

Alcohol, substance and medication misuse impacts all areas of our community. Housing, health, employment, education, criminology, mental health, social isolation.....You name it and drug and alcohol use is around to further compound those difficulties and complexities. 

I have tried to reach our to local and state government with this discussion often going unnoticed and unheard. Please consider signing this petition to show unity in demanding change. Together we can show that we are not an invisible community, we deserve the support, we deserve access to services and we need it now. Addiction can impact anyone, from all walks of lives. This community has incredibly passionate services provider that want to make it better, we just need more of us to make a change. 

Sign the petition, email local parliament members, present to their offices and demand change.