Dubbo and Walgett have been chosen to host forums on the “adequacy” of youth diversion programs and the provision of drug rehabilitation services for Aboriginal people in regional, rural and remote communities.
They are among nine forums to be held across the state by the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) NSW/ACT between November 20 and December 13.
ALS chief executive officer Lesley Turner said it would use feedback from the forums in submissions to the state government
He said the government was holding separate parliamentary inquiries into the two issues with the aim of “keeping Aboriginal kids out of jail and providing more drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote communities”.
“The ALS maintains that community-designed and community-led solutions are fundamental to our ongoing campaign of reducing the alarming rate of Aboriginal incarceration,” Mr Turner said.
“We’re urging members of the community to come along to our forums and have a say on whether youth diversion programs and drug rehabilitation programs are effective in keeping our Aboriginal kids out of jail and our communities heathy.
“From our earlier forums and online survey, our mob have told us that governments should be diverting funding from prisons and punishment into more community-based diversionary programs and rehabilitation.
“They say more Aboriginal people should have more control in designing, delivering and evaluating programs for Aboriginal people. That’s why the ALS is continuing to consult with Aboriginal people and communities to make sure their voices are heard as part of our advocacy with government.
“The ALS urges government to listen to community through these forums and looks forward to working in partnership with government to effect positive change in our communities.”
The forums will also be held at Redfern, Tweed Heads, Grafton, Wollongong, Mount Druitt, Tamworth and Broken Hill. The Walgett forum will run from 9.30am to 3pm on December 7 at the Walgett Sporting Club. Club Dubbo will host the final forum from 10am to 3pm on December 13.