NSW drug rehabilitation on agenda

Northern Mallee Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) chair Simon Clemence, Member for Mildura Peter Crisp, and LDAT members Gary Castleman, Gerard Jose, Simone Heald, David Kirby, Raelene Stephens, with Victorian Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy. Picture: Louise Barker

Northern Mallee Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) chair Simon Clemence, Member for Mildura Peter Crisp, and LDAT members Gary Castleman, Gerard Jose, Simone Heald, David Kirby, Raelene Stephens, with Victorian Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy. Picture: Louise Barker

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into the need for drug rehabilitation services has heard drug use, particularly ice, has been met with a lack of services in areas like Dareton and Menindee. 

A hearing held in Broken Hill, one of eight to occur across the state, aimed to examine the type of rehabilitation services available in regional areas as well as their funding costs and accessibility. 

During the hearing – the only one to take place in far west NSW – Broken Hill Mayor Darriea Turley said there was a “significant unmet” need for drug detoxification and rehabilitation services in far west NSW. 

“The scarcity of these services contributes to the legal and non-legal issues that our communities face and inhibits the ability of health and support service staff to make appropriate referrals,” Cr Turley said. 

“We have reports of drug use and a lack of access to services across the Far West, particularly amphetamine use or ice in Wilcannia, Menindee, Tibooburra, White Cliffs, Ivanhoe and Dareton.”

Cr Turley said the issue was exacerbated by limited support services for underage drug users and indigenous communities, and suggested a “holistic approach” combining drug detoxification and rehabilitation services was needed in the Far West.

During the hearing it was noted the only residential rehab service in the Far West, the Warrakoo healing centre located about 70km from Wentworth, has eight treatment beds and only provides drug rehabilitation to indigenous men.

Far West Community Legal Service principal solicitor Jillian Heeley told the hearing that drug and alcohol addication was a “dire and worsening situation” in Broken Hill and surrounding towns.

“I know this is merely anecdotal, but I have never seen such a high percentage of clients and/or their partners, or former partners, affected by drug and alcohol addiction,” Ms Heeley said.

The inquiry will travel to Lismore, Grafton and Sydney before producing a final report. 

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