ICE, heroin, mar­i­juana, al­co­hol...

Dubbo Photo News - - Weekender -

GREG Don­nelly serves in the state’s Up­per House, and while he doesn’t have an elec­torate to call his own, he has been tasked with rep­re­sent­ing the op­po­si­tion on mat­ters re­lat­ing to the elec­torate of Dubbo.

When Mr Don­nelly was named chair of the Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee No.2 into the pro­vi­sion of drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices in re­gional, ru­ral and re­mote NSW, he al­ready knew only too well about an al­most to­tal lack of such ser­vices in Dubbo and the western re­gion the city ser­vices.

“We heard anec­do­tally as we trav­elled the state that there were se­ri­ous prob­lems in re­gard to peo­ple with ad­dic­tion,” he told Dubbo

“The prob­lem is that out­side the big pop­u­la­tion cen­tres there was a sense that there was very lit­tle avail­able for them to re­ceive (the treat­ment needed).” He said that treat­ment in­cludes detox­i­fi­ca­tion, which is a pre­req­ui­site to the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, as well as the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion it­self, and the fol­low-up sup­port for ad­dicts to “move away from and be­yond the prob­lem of their ad­dic­tion”, Mr Don­nelly said.

“We did the in­quiry and we pro­duced a re­port and, trag­i­cally, it brought home ev­ery­thing we thought was go­ing on – but by a much big­ger mul­ti­ple be­cause ev­ery­where we went we found tragic cases of in­di­vid­u­als.”

The com­mit­tee alarmed at the range of ad­dic­tions be­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in this re­gion. “We set out think­ing we’d pri­mar­ily be look­ing at ICE, at Welling­ton and places like that, be­cause it’s such a de­struc­tive, il­licit sub­stance. Whilst that got com­mented on and it is a big prob­lem, there’s still an is­sue with heroin and mar­i­juana as well.

“The other thing we found was the is­sue of al­co­hol ad­dic­tion... it was raised ev­ery­where we went,” he re­vealed, adding that the com­mit­tee heard about “the rav­ages that al­co­hol cre­ates in com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr Don­nelly said de­spite his fre­quent Dubbo vis­its, it was a real eye-opener for him­self and his fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers as to how thin any mean­ing­ful ser­vices are on the ground.

“In sum­mary, there’s just a real dearth of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices. If you’ve got ad­dic­tion, be it drug or al­co­hol, you re­ally strug­gle to be able to have your ad­dic­tion di­ag­nosed.

“(Then peo­ple strug­gle to be ) put into the detox­i­fi­ca­tion, then into proper re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, but even if you get through the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, and this is tragic, the fol­low-up of­ten is so poor,

“So peo­ple pass through the re­hab but then there isn’t the reg­u­lar fol­low­ing-up to en­sure that they are able to sta­bilise their po­si­tion and re­main ad­dic­tion-free – you have the tragedy of peo­ple fall­ing back into it,” Mr Don­nelly said.

“There’s much to be done,” he added.

Mr Don­nelly de­scribed the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion as one where ad­dicts wo hap­pen to be in a big city like New­cas­tle, Syd­ney or Wol­lon­gong have ac­cess to big hospi­tal fa­cil­i­ties and the ded­i­cated re­sources in­side those hos­pi­tals for treat­ment. But out­side of those big cities, “it’s pretty thin on the ground”.

“There’s been a lot of work done here over a pe­riod of time, es­pe­cially from Cr Lawrence (ALP state can­di­date and Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil­lor Stephen Lawrence) and other coun­cil­lors who’ve seen the need to tackle this,” he said.

Stephen Lawrence is a bar­ris­ter who has spent years ob­serv­ing mag­is­trates with few op­tions when it comes to get­ting western suf­fer­ers into re­hab – he says it’s time for the cur­rent state gov­ern­ment to com­mit to the in­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

“Dubbo is very lucky to have Greg Don­nelly as our La­bor duty MLC, which means he has a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity in the Up­per House for this com­mu­nity,” Mr Lawrence said.

“Greg works re­ally hard and as chair of the re­cent in­quiry he was able to bring to bear his lo­cal knowl­edge from his reg­u­lar trips out here – Dubbo was the only area to be sin­gled out in the re­port for spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The busi­ness case for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre is now with Troy Grant (Mem­ber for Dubbo) and we await news on whether the state gov­ern­ment will be fund­ing it. It will sim­ply be a tragedy it we miss out again,” Mr Lawrence said.

Dubbo Photo News has been told it’s not just the La­bor op­po­si­tion push­ing for these ser­vices in Dubbo. Lo­cal po­lice and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies have held the con­sis­tent line that there’s a huge need for drug and al­co­hol detox and re­hab ser­vices in this part of the state.

Mr Don­nelly said in­no­va­tive ar­range­ments like the Koori Courts and the Drug Court model work well else­where and should be es­tab­lished in Dubbo too. The model should re­quire both the ad­dict and the sys­tem to ac­knowl­edge the ad­dic­tion, and then al­low the per­son to be treated for that – in­clud­ing par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. The model should also pro­vide guide­lines on how any penal­ties are ap­plied, de­pend­ing on the re­sult with each in­di­vid­ual.

“It’s not that this is­sue has just arisen in the last 12 months or two years, it goes back many years and we’re all sort of scratch­ing our heads ask­ing, ‘Why hasn’t some­thing hap­pened?’

“It’s not that peo­ple don’t know about it, it’s not that peo­ple have not been talk­ing about it, so surely there’s got to be some­thing done,” Mr Don­nelly said.

“In the con­text of Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, how do we get them to come to terms with how this is some­thing they have to face up to and deal with? (The prob­lem) has to be con­fronted by work­ing with com­mu­nity lead­ers, the el­ders, to work with the younger ones and get­ting them to turn away from this,” he said.

Greg Don­nelly, left, serves in the state’s Up­per House and rep­re­sents the op­po­si­tion on mat­ters re­lat­ing to the elec­torate of Dubbo. He's pic­tured with Dubbo Re­gional coun­cil­lor and La­bor Can­di­date for the state seat of Dubbo, Stephen Lawrence. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.