Heroin abuse in Victoria has reached a national high, but vulnerable Victorians seeking help to kick these life-threatening addictions still struggle to access support.
Data released today by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) paints a damning picture of illegal drug use in Victoria across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Abuse of heroin in Melbourne is the worst in the nation.
Victoria also recorded the second highest average capital city consumption of cocaine, while regional sites were the second worst in Australia for abuse of heroin and oxycodone.
Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy said the harrowing data came as health experts warned of a ‘shadow pandemic’.
“Victorian’s health has been shattered by the pressures of the pandemic, with isolation from loved ones and colleagues, business closures and job losses dealing massive emotional, social and financial stress,” Ms Kealy said.
“Sadly, illegal drug use will only get worse while vulnerable Victorians at crisis point are being turned away from critical mental health support services.
“Victorians deserve proactive solutions, like the Liberals and Nationals’ immediate reforms to provide a critical boost of 4000 extra workers for Victoria’s fatigued and under-resourced mental health workforce.
“Instead, State Labor’s only solution is to push ahead with a second injecting room – in the wrong location and at a time when there’s still deadly problems reported at the first injecting room in Richmond.”
The findings come during a worsening healthcare crisis in Victoria. Recent reports have confirmed 12 Victorians are dead after loved one’s desperate calls to the Triple Zero hotline weren’t answered because the Labor Government has neglected the emergency service.
Meanwhile, a failure to plan for Victoria’s future health workforce means more than 80,000 Victorians are stranded on the elective surgery waitlist after mass cancellations through the pandemic.
“Labor has been in government 19 of the past 23 years and these delays leave sick Victorians getting sicker,” Ms Kealy said.
“The only way to improve waitlists at our hospitals and mental health services and to recover and rebuild our state is to change the government in November.”
ACIC’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report monitored 10 sites in Victoria (locations are not identified, but two are capital city sites and eight are in regional Victoria) in April 2021 and August 2021.