New crime committee could create competition for drug court

Stephen Lawrence.
Stephen Lawrence.

A nearby council’s social justice plan might create competition for a drug court but councillor Stephen Lawrence says he’s confident in Dubbo Regional Council.

Lismore Council has resolved to form a Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee similar to Dubbo’s to investigate the need for a drug court, a residential rehab centre and a Koori court.

If funding is found from the NSW government, Dubbo Regional Council hopes to have a residential facility up and running by 2019. Meanwhile, a drug court could happen in the next term of state government, Cr Lawrence said.

“Certainly part of [Lismore’s] committee will be pitching, for example a drug court, and you can only have so many drug courts I suppose but we are confident in our ability as a council to advocate for what this community needs and we’ve been doing it for some time,” Cr Lawrence said.

“That’s always a risk I suppose but I think overall it’s a positive thing to see them setting out on the same journey we are.”

Imitation was the best form of flattery, Cr Lawrence said, and it was encouraging to see Lismore was moving in the same direction.

Mayor Ben Shields said it was pleasing to see Dubbo was the leader of the pack and other councils were following.

It would mean neither council had to reinvent the wheel, but could bounce ideas off one another, he said.

“Now we’ve got to make sure we got it right and don’t lead them over a cliff. But in all honesty it is good they are setting up a committee which is pretty much identical to ours, the reason being the sharing of knowledge,” he said.

Cr Lawrence said currently the crime committee – which was comprised of interested councillors and council staff –was working through each issue one by one.

A detailed business case for a residential rehabilitation had been created and Dubbo MP Troy Grant would be taking the proposal forward to the NSW government, Cr Lawrence said. He said a collective impact policy had also been developed, which would be made public soon for consultation.

When it came to solving entranced social issues, such as families who were in and out of incarceration, Cr Lawrence said it would not happen overnight.