Meth Helpline not supported, says opposition

Meth Helpline not supported, says opposition

The Meth Helpline, which has been in place since 2009, is suffering from negligence, according the the state opposition.

Twenty-four per cent of callers trying to contact the Meth Helpline were unable to get through last year, according to documents from the state opposition.

Shadow Minister for Mental Health Sean L’Estrange said the Liberal party had uncovered data that showed between the 2015-16 and 2017-2018 recording years, calls to the Meth Helpline increased 35.8 per cent.

Despite this, in 2016-2017 more than one fifth of people trying to call the hotline hit a dead end.

Mr L’Estrange said the state government’s lack of support for the helpline would leave hundreds of West Australian families without a lifeline to support services in a time of crisis.

“The Minister for Mental Health should be demanding an increase in support for the Meth Helpline, not sitting back and allowing his Government to cut its funding by $154,000,” Mr L’Estrange said.

“This cut will reduce the weekly number of operator shifts on the helpline by 10, which will undoubtedly mean even more calls to the helpline going unanswered.

“It is hard to understand why the Government is penny pinching on such an important, frontline, service.”

Mental Health Minister Roger Cook defended the Labor government’s handling of the Meth Helpline, which had been put in place by the previous government in 2009, and said it was still active and operating.

“The Meth Helpline is active and calls are being answered by trained counsellors, if a call goes unanswered, a message can be left to receive a return call,” he said.

“Call numbers will be closely monitored.”

Mr Cook argued the helpline had been adopted as part of the government’s wider methamphetamine plan, which required more resources than a hotline.

“The Meth Helpline is part of the broader government funded Alcohol and Drug Support Service which provides three support phone lines: the alcohol and drug support line, the parent and family drug support line and the meth helpline,” he said.

“This receives $1.1 million in funding form the Government.

“The government is acutely aware of the problems associated with meth, that’s why we implemented the Methamphetamine Action Plan to address the supply, access and harm caused by this drug.

“Unlike the former Liberal National government we took this community issue seriously and realised it needs a whole of government approach.

“The Meth Taskforce will present their final report to McGowan government by the end of the year.”