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Dubbo facility ‘won’t help’ Far West

Monday, 1st April, 2019

By Craig Brealey

Dubbo is being given $3 million for a live-in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre but that would not be much help to people in the Far West, according to the president of the Far West Law Society.

The Federal Government said the money would go to the Dubbo Council to establish a 15-bed rehabilitation facility and an eight-bed withdrawal and detox facility.

“Alcohol and drug misuse affects not just the individuals involved, but the people and communities around them, said the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.

“Rehabilitation services are crucial to enable people with substance problems to get their lives back on track.”

Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, said a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre was much needed in Dubbo.

“This type of facility, which will offer proactive support, rehabilitation and after-care assistance, will go a long way to help those in the community who are struggling.”

Lawyer, Rachel Storey, said substance abuse in Dubbo would be no worse than it was in Broken Hill, the capital city of the western half of NSW.

“All the studies show that we need a residential rehabilitation centre,” said Ms Storey, who last year gave evidence to a NSW inquiry into the matter.

“Time and time again we have demonstrated the ongoing and absolute need,” she said.

“Unfortunately, Sydney and Canberra don’t appear to understand that Dubbo is at least eight hours’ drive from Broken Hill.”

The NSW Legislative Council’s Inquiry into the Provision of Drug Rehabilitation Services in Regional, Rural and Remote NSW last year took evidence from a range of local agencies at its hearing in the city.

They included the Far West Legal Centre, the Far West Law Society, the Salvation Army, the Aboriginal Legal Service, and the BH Community Restorative Centre. 

All said the evidence for the need of a residential rehabilitation centre staffed by qualified professionals was overwhelming.

Now, often the only place for addicts is in jail but a proper rehab centre would cut the incidence of not only crimes such as assault and theft but domestic violence and suicide, the inquiry was told.

It was told the result was that people who could have been cured in their home town spent their lives going in and out of jail. 

Apart from Mildura the only other residential rehab centres to which people on criminal charges may be referred are in Adelaide, Murray Bridge, Brewarrina, Orange, Cowra and Sydney. 

Last August the NSW Upper House inquiry tabled its report and called on the government to build more rehab services in the bush.

People suffering from drug and alcohol addiction in country NSW had every right to the same treatment as was available to addicts in the big cities, said the chairman of the committee, Greg Donnelly.

“Citizens of this State who happen to live away from the major population centres should, in the 21st century, not have to experience such disadvantage,” Mr Donnelly said.

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