THERE has been “overwhelming community support” for a petition calling for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility within the Tamworth electorate, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Jeff Bacon says.
In four weeks since the petition launched, it has gained more than 500 signatures and Mr Bacon said more were pouring in every day.
He said the goal was to get 10,000 signatures, so whoever wins the March 23 election can present the petition to the NSW government and get it discussed in parliament.
“The people signing it come from all walks of life,” Mr Bacon said.
“Everyone recognises that it’s the elephant in the room that hasn’t been spoken about.
“We’ve got country music festival coming up, and that’s how a lot of the Banksia Mental Health Unit signatures were gained. It ended up with more than 13,000.”
Tamworth health advocate Narrell Langfield said many of the signatures came with a heartbreaking story.
“You tell them your story, and they tell you a story back,” Mrs Langfield said.
“It’s amazing the amount of people that have their own story.”
Mrs Langfield’s son was found in his home almost starved to death after an attempted alcohol detox. He now has irreversible brain damage.
Mrs Langfield is looking to move him in to a nursing home, at the age of 45.
“It’s the type of thing that happens behind close doors, and if it’s happening to you, it can tear your life and your family apart,” she said.
Mr Bacon said the petition had even gained support from groups in the neighbouring Northern Tablelands electorate.
“They recognise that having a large facility eases the burden on the Freeman House rehab in Armidale, and it would also would cater for the whole North West,” he said.
“It’s bigger than just Tamworth. We’re talking Walgett, Wee Waa, Narrabri, all those areas out there, there’s nothing.
“To have a centre here in the Tamworth electorate, you’re going to create jobs and you’re going to make the community stronger.”
Mr Bacon has called for the other state candidates to put politics aside and support the rehab facility.
So far, independent Mark Rodda and Labor candidate Stephen Mears have publicly backed the call for the rehab, with both signing the petition.