NSW government launches inquiry into regional drug rehab services

OUTCOMES: Guyra-based state politician Scot MacDonald will be listening in on an inquiry on regional drug rehab services. Photo: Gareth Gardner

OUTCOMES: Guyra-based state politician Scot MacDonald will be listening in on an inquiry on regional drug rehab services. Photo: Gareth Gardner

ADDRESSING drug and alcohol rehab shortages in regional areas will go some way to addressing violent and recidivist crime, one politician says.

This week marked the beginning of the state government’s inquiry into rehab services in regional, rural and remote communities.

Guyra-based Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald is in the government committee charged with finding what service shortages exist in the bush.

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Mr MacDonald’s initial concerns were about offenders in outer-lying communities who might be required to undertake rehab.

“Most incidents of domestic violence, assault, sexual assault” are linked to drug and alcohol issues, Mr MacDonald said.

While bigger regional centres might have treatment at hand, he said offenders in smaller and more remote communities who “know they need treatment” mightn’t be able to access it.

“Obviously, you want them to be able access treatment,” he said.

“That could have huge implications for for communities.”

The inquiry’s committee will make a recommendation to the government following the hearings, which will wrap-up in late June.

“It’s not going to be a drug and alcohol facility on every corner,” he said.

The MLC said outreach services might be the way to go to increase accessibility to services.

The Tenterfield Social Development Committee was the only service in the region to make a submission to the inquiry.

The submission said detoxification as a pre-entry requirement for rehab was listed as one of the committee’s main issues.

“Beds are limited in this region and waiting times vary from a couple of days to weeks and months depending on client needs at any given time,” the submission said.

“Distance is also a problem as a lot of people needing detox do not have transport so services have to drive clients 2 to 3 hours to receive the treatment they need.”

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