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Budget support to hit drugs and prevent suicide

Budget support to hit drugs and prevent suicide

Support to address drug abuse and prevent youth suicide will feature in Budget 2003 says Progressive Leader and Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton, who chairs the Government’s Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy.

At the sixth Annual New Zealand Australia Conference on Addictive Diseases in Wellington today, Jim Anderton announced community action initiatives to combat drugs and the establishment of programmes for intervention for families where there has been a suicide or attempted suicide. “Budget commitments announced today were part of the Progressive Party’s budget bids made as part of the constructive role we are playing within the Coalition Government,” Jim Anderton said.

“The 2003 Budget includes 15 community action initiatives, six in rural areas and nine in urban centres which will help combat the effects of cannabis and other illicit drugs. These initiatives are based on the successful Community Action Projects located in Kaitaia, Hokianga, Whangaruru, West Auckland, Opotiki and Nelson.

“The 15 initiatives will be located where the use of drugs is highest. Local teams from key agencies will be brought together to develop action plans. There will also be national development meetings for the local teams involved.

“These 15 community initiatives will receive funding totalling $2.55 million per year.

“There will also be $150,000 per year for a national drug information analyst to provide accurate comprehensive and accessible information for the National Drug Policy.

Jim Anderton also has responsibility for the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy. “We need to give more assistance to families and whanau where there has been a suicide or attempted suicide.

“Families and whanau can be particularly vulnerable when they have lost someone to suicide. Where a suicide has been attempted family members can end up being very distressed and vulnerable themselves. On the other hand, with the right support and information they can play a very positive role in helping someone who is suicidal towards recovery. Budget 2003 provides $1.3 million for each initiative - $2.6 million over four years.

“In addition the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy which has an existing operational budget of only $40,000 per year will receive an additional $150,000 in 2003/4 and 2004/5 and another $75,000 next year to review the effectiveness of the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

“Although youth suicide seems to be declining and is now less than 100 a year, every suicide is a failure and a human tragedy. We need to talk and do more with parents, caregivers and teachers on how to identify youth at risk and address their problems,” said Jim Anderton.

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