LOCALS struggling with drug and alcohol addiction are in need of immediate help, but a specialist rehabilitation centre in Tamworth likely remains years away.
Groups that work in the sector have long been pushing for swift action and extra financial support, but recent state budgets have left them wanting more while other regional hubs such as Dubbo have seen funding for purpose-built rehab units.
The Fair Treatment Campaign, which advocates for the decriminalisation of drugs to reduce stigma and make it easier for users to ask for help, is the latest to call for additional resources.
A representative said it was obvious from just one community meeting there is a "massive gap" in the services available and significant change was needed.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said his plan is still to repurpose the Banksia mental health facility into a rehab centre once the new Banksia is built.
However, this would take years with initial work on the new facility likely to be more than 12 months away.
The state government would also have to make a successful bid to take the building off of Hunter New England Health.
Until then, Mr Anderson said he would continue to use current funding programs to prop up local organisations.
"There's already a significant number of outreach services providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in Tamworth, and I applaud and continue to support them," he said.
Tamworth Shire Council (TRC) is hoping to offer a different and more prompt response to the problem, and has officially endorsed the Matrix program, which supports community-based treatment.
At April's council meeting, it voted to send a letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian requesting extra allocations of government or non-government agencies to engage with the West Tamworth community.
As part of that, the letter was also forwarded on to Mr Anderson, however, TRC's crime prevention working group chair Russell Webb revealed the local member hasn't replied.
Mr Anderson confirmed he has received the letter, but only said he was open to "discuss any options" in relation to providing increased services to the community.
Former Barwon MP Kevin Humphries is also an advocate for the Matrix program, and said if Mr Anderson was serious about securing funding for rehabilitation centres of schemes, then he needed to provide the responsible minister with compelling evidence.
The Tamworth MP is confident he has that data and it shows the region must receive increased support, but maintained revitalising the old Banksia building once it becomes available is the best solution.
"I believe I do have [the data], there's a lot of evidence in and around our community and in the New England - North West about the growing demand for the need of drug and alcohol rehabilitation services," he said.
"And I believe that the old Banksia mental health facility will be a perfect fit for such a facility."
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