COUN­CIL WATCH A Dubbo drug re­hab cen­tre is one step closer

Dubbo Photo News - - Council Watch - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

THERE are no ded­i­cated drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion detox beds in Dubbo yet, as Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil (DRC) Mayor Ben Shields wrote in Novem­ber 2017 in a Coun­cil sub­mis­sion to the NSW Up­per House in­quiry into the pro­vi­sion of drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices in re­gional, ru­ral and re­mote NSW. Our “re­gion ser­vices 120,000 peo­ple with high lev­els of so­cial dis­ad­van­tage”, he said.

The sub­mis­sion process was fol­lowed by pub­lic hear­ings this year, with one be­ing held in Dubbo on Wed­nes­day, May 9. Coun­cil­lor Stephen Lawrence pro­vided ev­i­dence to the hear­ing on Dubbo’s need for a ded­i­cated re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity.

He spoke at length of the need for a drug court to ad­dress the “in­sid­i­ous cy­cle in­volv­ing drugs, so­cial dis­ad­van­tage and im­pris­on­ment”.

“As a coun­cil we are de­ter­mined to be the voice for the com­mu­nity on these is­sues and we will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate and play an en­abling role to as­sist in ser­vices be­ing pro­vided. There is, of course, a limit to what we can do,” Cr Lawrence said.

“The ratepay­ers of our LGA can­not and should not bear the bur­den of the cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture and the re­cur­rent bud­get of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres, drug courts and the like.

“These things are fun­da­men­tally State and/or Fed­eral Govern­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” Cr Lawrence told the in­quiry.

The hear­ing com­mit­tee lis­tened and en­gaged with stake­hold­ers on the is­sue for four hours.

Cr Lawrence is hope­ful when the re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions are handed down later this year, it will feed into pub­lic dis­cus­sions in the lead-up to the State elec­tion.

“On be­half of Coun­cil, I cer­tainly asked the Com­mit­tee to make very spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions to Dubbo’s needs in this re­gard, and I re­ally hope that in­jects into the pub­lic dis­cus­sion in the lead up to the elec­tion,” he said.

“It’s not clear to me whether the govern­ment will have to re­spond prior to the elec­tion. That will depend when the re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions are brought down, but that would be good too if they were forced to re­spond to the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The govern­ment con­ven­tion­ally will re­spond to the rec­om­men­da­tions of a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee and say whether they agree or not, and in­tend to im­ple­ment them or not.”

Most of the push for a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in Dubbo has been com­mu­nity driven.

“There’s been a very much grass roots driven ini­tia­tive. In my pre­vi­ous role in Abo­rig­i­nal Le­gal Ser­vice I had a role in it; there was a com­mit­tee formed in 2012/13 and Lyn Fields has been a con­sis­tent sup­porter of it, and she or­gan­ised a pe­ti­tion,” Cr Lawrence said.

“What we’re do­ing at Coun­cil is: we’ve hired a con­sul­tant, and we’ve al­lo­cated $100,000 in the bud­get for the con­sul­tant to de­velop a busi­ness case pro­posal that meets the re­quire­ments of the State Govern­ment bud­get process.

“That will go through (Mem­ber for Dubbo Troy Grant) into the State Govern­ment pro­cesses. I think in the mid­dle of the sec­ond half of this year, as I un­der­stand (the sit­u­a­ton), there’ll be a de­ci­sion on that, well prior to the state elec­tion. That’s our plan at Coun­cil,” he said.

The amount of ex­pen­di­ture in­volved in the pro­posal means it would go to cab­i­net.

“Troy’s cer­tainly told us he’s sup­port­ive of it. We’ll have to wait and see what hap­pens in the in­ter­nal pro­cesses of govern­ment,” Cr Lawrence said.

The con­sul­tant ap­pointed by Coun­cil is in the process of talk­ing to rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers and ser­vice providers and putting to­gether a pro­posal on how the cen­tre would work with all the dif­fer­ent sup­port ser­vices.

A pre­vail­ing feel­ing is the cen­tre is not a band aid, but a holis­tic ap­proach to true drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“I’ve had meetings with Stephen Ryan at the Abo­rig­i­nal Land Coun­cil where he said he thinks Dubbo needs a heal­ing cen­tre, and I think that is pretty con­sis­tent with the vi­sion coun­cil is work­ing to­wards.

“So it would be a cen­tre that won’t just ware­house peo­ple with prob­lems but be a cen­tre that will try to ad­dress and help peo­ple in all ar­eas of their life. A ser­vice of this na­ture in our re­gion in in­evitably go­ing to have a high pro­por­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple ac­cess­ing it and it will be re­ally im­por­tant to have the lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity in­put to make sure that the ser­vices are cul­tur­ally ef­fec­tive.”

Three Rivers Re­gional As­sem­bly chair, and mem­ber of both Dubbo Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity Work­ing Party and Dubbo Lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal Lands Coun­cil, Rod Towney, also pre­sented to the in­quiry com­mit­tee.

“We need some­thing in Dubbo to help look af­ter our peo­ple .... The Orana Haven Cen­tre in Gon­gol­gon is a long way away from Dubbo. The Weigelli Cen­tre at Cowra is also a long way away from Dubbo. Peo­ple do not have the means to travel back and forth to visit peo­ple,” Mr Towney told the in­quiry.

“Once you sep­a­rate fam­i­lies there is a big gap, right there and then. Once you af­fect an Abo­rig­i­nal in­di­vid­ual and an Abo­rig­i­nal fam­ily, you af­fect a lot of peo­ple within the com­mu­nity,” he said.

The quest to see a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre open in Dubbo is bring­ing Abo­rig­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions and Coun­cil to­gether in ways never seen be­fore.

“I just sense of real en­thu­si­asm across the com­mu­nity for this cen­tre be­cause we’ve talked about it for so long. There hasn’t been a lot of po­lit­i­cal will to do it. There’s been a lot of com­mu­nity will. Hope­fully Coun­cil join­ing the push is the thing that helps to get it over the line,” Cr Lawrence said.

Coun­cil aims to see a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre run­ning in Dubbo by the end of next year.

This quan­tity of liq­uid metham­phetamine, or “ice”, was dis­guised in var­i­ous pack­ag­ing when un­cov­ered by Aus­tralian Bor­der Force of­fi­cers in Sydney. The “ice epi­demic” in Western NSW is one of the rea­sons for re­newed calls for a ded­i­cated re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity in Dubbo. PHOTO: REUTERS/JA­SON REED

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.