Victoria is close to the decriminalisation of public drunkenness, nearly three decades after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody first made the recommendation.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has welcomed the Andrews Government’s decision to review all recommendations of its Expert Reference Group’s report Seeing the clear light of day. The report reinforces that no one should be in a police cell just because they are intoxicated.
ANMF supports the two-year implementation period which will enable the Andrews Government to develop a public health model response to replace the jail cell. The implementation period will include trial sites before rolling the approach out across the state.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said ‘Thirty years is too long to wait, but it is appropriate we wait just a little longer while the measures are put in place to support police and health services so they can provide safe care. Importantly this legislation will benefit many and not just those from indigenous communities.
‘This is a much-welcomed new public health model response and a natural extension of the Andrews Government’s bold drug and alcohol reform agenda.
‘Nurses know that a health model rather than a criminal response is the best way to protect the community and the people who are intoxicated.’
The Andrews Government’s six emergency department ‘crisis hubs’ across the state, to be staffed with specialised nurses will also create a safer environment to deal with patients presenting with serious addiction issues. The ‘crisis hubs’ will also give police confidence in knowing which hospitals to take affected people for expert care.
The ‘hubs’ will be located at Monash Medical Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, University Hospital in Geelong, Sunshine Hospital and Frankston Hospital.
The government has also been investing in nursing workforce education, including scholarships, to develop and expand the drug and alcohol workforce as new services come online including the rehabilitation services due to open in Geelong, Traralgon and Wangaratta as part of this week’s 2020-21 budget.