Victoria's largest provider of youth alcohol and other drug (AOD) services is calling on the state's politicians to make a bigger commitment to funding early intervention and support programs for vulnerable young people dealing with substance misuse.
The Youth Support & Advocacy Service (YSAS) is the state's largest and most comprehensive youth specific AOD treatment provider with more than 20 years’ experience in providing frontline services.
Ahead of the Victorian state election in November, YSAS has launched a 10 Point Plan aimed at improving the lives of young Victorians and their families experiencing harm from alcohol and other drugs.
YSAS chief executive Andrew Bruun is calling on each of the state's political parties to endorse and support the plan ahead of this year's election.
"We know that substance misuse leads to poor health outcomes, increased crime and community concern.
"It makes sense to nip substance use problems in the bud by intervening early with effective programs for young people an families. We will all reap the long-term benefits if we do."
Mr Bruun says state government support has already made a huge difference through the $184m Ice Action Plan and the $87m Drug Rehabilitation Plan. But he notes none of the investment has been dedicated to services for vulnerable people aged between 12 and 18.
"We know that the teenage years are the key period for the emergence of substance abuse disorders," Mr Bruun said.
"When the problems that start emerging for younger people aren't dealt with, there's a high risk that these people will have extremely poor health and social outcomes by the time they're young adults."
Mr Bruun says that can result in entrenched dependency on harder drugs, or lifelong disadvantage as a result of missed education and work opportunities.
"We've been able to fund what we do right now through the support of the government, along with donors and fundraising," he said.
"But our services are overwhelmed by demand.
"With targeted investment - focused on the youngest and most vulnerable Victorians - there is so much more that can be done."
YSAS is launching the 10-Point Plan at a breakfast event at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on Thursday.
MEDIA: For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Alys Francis on 0476 287 787 or Jackie Hanafie on 0412 652 439.