Regional drugs pain: “It’s a no-brainer that there is a lack of infrastructure”

Regional NSW drugs pain: “It’s a no-brainer that there is a lack of infrastructure”


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The committee, chaired by Labor’s Greg Donnelly and featuring members from The Nationals, Liberals, The Greens, has held hearings on the South Coast, at Dubbo and Broken Hill. It will be focusing on the problems faced by the North Coast next month.

The committee, chaired by Labor’s Greg Donnelly and featuring members from The Nationals, Liberals, The Greens, has held hearings on the South Coast, at Dubbo and Broken Hill. It will be focusing on the problems faced by the North Coast next month.

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Select Committee hears of 'diabolical' service shortfall in the state's west

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A ‘DIABOLIC’ lack of drug and detox services in Western NSW sees some people travel hundreds of kilometres to check in to residential rehab.

But the most depressing thing, according to the Deputy Chair of a touring parliamentary inquiry, is that the sheer scale and depth of the problem is not news. 

“It’s a no-brainer that there is a lack of infrastructure on the ground,” Upper House Christian Democrat Paul Green said. “We hear all about the ice epidemic, the service gaps… it is diabolical in some places. So sadly it’s not a surprise.”   

Mr Green is a member of a committee looking at what needs to be done to unlock access to residential drug rehabilitation for people in the bush. 

The committee, chaired by Labor’s Greg Donnelly and featuring members from The Nationals, Liberals, The Greens, has held hearings on the South Coast, at Dubbo and Broken Hill. It will be focusing on the problems faced by the North Coast next month.  

Service providers giving evidence at the inquiry paint a depressingly familiar picture of underfunding.

Service providers giving evidence at the inquiry paint a depressingly familiar picture of underfunding.

The harrowing evidence delivered by service providers and community leaders all revolves around familiar themes of underfunding, underresourcing, and an increasingly ingrained pattern of disadvantage and misery.  

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Of particular focus was the potential role Dubbo could be playing in being a hub-and-spoke service for drug rehabilitation, particularly residential treatment, and why that is not the case. 

Currently, western NSW residential drug rehab facilities are found in Wentworth, Brewarrina, Orange, Moree, and Cowra, but space is limited and the tyranny of distance presents logistical challenges. It’s nearly 300km from Broken Hill to the nearest centre, which has eight beds and a months-long waiting list. 

Dubbo ‘common sense’ hub for residential rehab 

DUBBO may be one of the state’s fastest growing regional centres, but the fact it has not become the centralised drug rehab service it could be is a disappointment to thinly-stretched support services and community leaders across Western NSW.  

The town, which hosted the parliamentary inquiry into drug rehab services in regional NSW earlier this month, was recognised by many to be the most common-sense hub for drug services, including residential rehab, a drug court and related programs, for the West of the state. 

Dubbo Regional Council has allocated $100,000 in its budget for a residential rehab centre business case, which it said had been flagged with local MP Troy Grant. Councillor Stephen Lawrence, formerly the principal legal officer with the Aboriginal Legal Service in Western NSW, said council had set a goal of having a rehab centre up and running by December 2019. 

“However, in our optimism we do not lose sight of the fact that a promise was made prior to the last State election that plans for a rehabilitation centre and a drug court in Dubbo were well underway and close to being finalised,” Cr Lawrence said.

Mr Grant said before a decision was made “it is important the whole community has a chance to express their views about establishing such facilities in Dubbo... including a suitable location.” He said residents could complete an anonymous online survey that will be provided to the Parliamentary Inquiry, Department of Justice, and council.

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