TAK­ING ON DRUG AND AL­CO­HOL USE

Ad­vo­cacy group re­ceives fund­ing to tackle the grow­ing prob­lem of sub­stance abuse in North Bur­nett com­mu­ni­ties:

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Philippe Co­querand philippe.co­querand@cnbtimes.com.au

COM­MU­NITY ad­vo­cacy group Step­ping Black is tak­ing ac­tion to combat the prob­lem of drug and al­co­hol abuse in the North Bur­nett.

As part of the newly funded Strong Abo­rig­i­nal Fam­i­lies in Eidsvold (SAFE) pro­gram, a drug ac­tion team from Step­ping Black held a work­shop in Eidsvold on Fri­day, fo­cused on work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties to ad­dress the is­sue.

SAFE is a pro­gram aimed at de­vel­op­ing an em­pow­ered fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment that has a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on the First Na­tions peo­ple of Eidsvold to cre­ate a healthy, safe and har­mo­nious com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to a Step­ping Black spokesper­son.

The group re­ceived lo­cal drug ac­tion team fund­ing and will work in part­ner­ship with Bridges Health, Eidsvold State School and Com­mu­nity Care to de­liver the pro­gram in the North Bur­nett.

Zona Hussey-Smith, spokesper­son for Step­ping Black said the project would look at ways to work with com­mu­ni­ties on preven­tion pro­grams.

“The fund­ing has been re­ceived, it comes un­der the Aus­tralian drug foun­da­tion and what they’re hop­ing to do is set up lo­cal drug ac­tion teams around Aus­tralia whereby com­mu­ni­ties can look at lead­ing so­lu­tions to some of the is­sues a com­mu­nity is fac­ing,” Mrs Hussey-Smith said.

“As a small Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity they tend to not get fund­ing or at­ten­tion and what I want to do is sup­port them to stand strong and build up their own char­ac­ter, their cul­ture their com­mu­nity.”

Mrs Hussey-Smith said al­co­hol was still the big­gest prob­lem fac­ing Aus­tralia.

“Drugs come in all forms, there’s al­co­hol, pre­scrip­tion drugs and il­le­gal drugs and al­co­hol is by far the big­gest prob­lem in Aus­tralia,” she said.

A spokesper­son for Wide Bay Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice said drugs had a detri­men­tal ef­fect on the com­mu­nity and could be dif­fi­cult to man­age.

“The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of drug use in small com­mu­ni­ties such as those in the North Bur­nett can be de­struc­tive due to con­cen­tra­tions of peo­ple who are marginalised and highly vul­ner­a­ble,” the spokesper­son said.

“The causes be­hind drug use can be com­pli­cated and in­ter-gen­er­a­tional.

“There are push and pull fac­tors in re­la­tion to drug use in these com­mu­ni­ties, for ex­am­ple ac­cess to

ser­vices can be more dif­fi­cult in these com­mu­ni­ties, but within these com­mu­ni­ties there can be marginalised peo­ple who choose to de­lib­er­ately live there be­cause of that lack of ser­vice.”

The spokesper­son said

pre­scrip­tion opi­ates were the num­ber one con­cern for the North Bur­nett.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence of our Wide Bay Al­co­hol and Other Drug Ser­vice team has shown that in the North Bur­nett the abuse of pre­scrip­tive opi­ates in

com­bi­na­tion with other drugs is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern,” they said.

The spokesper­son said drug users of­ten used more than one sub­stance, mak­ing the prob­lem chal­leng­ing to ad­dress.

“It is im­por­tant to

re­mem­ber that a large pro­por­tion of peo­ple who choose to use il­licit sub­stances are mul­ti­ple drug users,” the spokesper­son said.

■ Visit step­ping­black .com.au for more in­for­ma­tion.

PHOTO: FILE

NEW AP­PROACH: Drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion is a prob­lem in the North Bur­nett with ser­vices avail­able to help.

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