Communities hope for rehab centers
The need for drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities for the Dubbo region is what took me to Dubbo last week. People with substance abuse issues in Barwon have such limited options for detox and treatment anywhere near their home. A comprehensive rehabilitation service in Dubbo would be a major improvement. The Federal Government has pledged $3 million (18 months ago) - we now need a commitment from NSW.
Regional NSW is massively over represented in users of methamphetamine. Disadvantage brought on by distance, poorer educational outcomes, and less opportunity is exacerbated by the predatory behaviours of organised crime groups, pushing drugs of addiction like Methamphetamine to communities in regional NSW. Residential rehabilitation is an effective option for people who are ready to change their behaviours.
The Barwon electorate is 356,000 square kms and comprises of over 79,000 people who call the Barwon electorate home. For the entire population of Barwon, who are spread across the vast western reaches, there are only 26 residential rehabilitation beds for people looking to beat drug and alcohol addiction. These beds have eligibility criteria that exclude most people. Given the size of the problem in regional NSW, the number of available beds is woefully inadequate. For the entire population of Broken Hill and the Far West of the State, there are just three drug and alcohol counsellors.
21 years ago the Drug Summit made a series of recommendations. Sadly, they remain largely unimplemented. In 2020, we had the Ice Inquiry, the recommendations echoing many of the 1999 Drug Summit recommendations.
Lives are being destroyed, families ripped apart, and the cost to the public increasing through custodial sentences and increased demand for limited health services.
We are now less than a fortnight away from the 2020 NSW Budget being handed down by the Treasurer. It’s time for the State Government to overcome its paralyses in taking action against drug addictions, respond to the Federal commitment of $3 million, and commit to ongoing support of residential rehabilitation services in western NSW.