Federal Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and newly elected state upper house Greens member Diane Evers are embarking on a tour of the South West to discuss a number of key community issues.
The pair were in Bunbury on Tuesday to meet with a number of locals and organisations to discuss forests, mental health, the NDIS and drug and alcohol treatment before similar meetings in Busselton, Margaret River, Balingup and Manjimup later in the week.
Speaking to the Mail on Tuesday, the pair said it had been great to have an opportunity to find out what the key issues are affecting people at both a state and federal level.
“One of the key issues we have picked up is that the South West is lacking accommodation for people who are transitioning – whether out of imprisonment, out of hospital and out of drug and alcohol rehabilitation,” Ms Siewert said.
“For the past three or four years, every time I discuss local problems, accommodation and a lack of affordable housing comes up in the South West.”
Ms Evers, who was inducted into parliament two months ago, said she has already made efforts to use her strong background in finance to highlight the need to fix these types of issues faster.
“It’s clear that the earlier issues in our system are addressed, the cheaper it is to fix them,” she said.
“While it is important to fix problems such as housing affordability and drug and alcohol abuse as compassionately as possible, it is also important to tackle them early before they spiral out of control and cost the government a lot of money – at a time when we must work to repair an already overwhelming debt.”
The pair also highlighted the amount of people who wished to discuss the effects of substance abuse.
“It was felt that the impacts of substance abuse on other people was increasing even if the amount of usage was not,” Ms Evers said.
“We should not be demonising people with drug addiction – we need to treat it as a health issue and offer holistic rehabilitation.
“To do this well, we need look at ways to offer more quality residential services in the South West.”
Ms Siewert said a positive to come out of the discussions so far was praise from those who have been able to access the NDIS WA.
“Those who have been able to access it so far have received good benefits and it is important that carers have been getting support too,” she said.
“But we must also work to get support for people who don’t have access to the NDIS too.”