Inquiry recommends Dubbo for drug court, more rehabilitation services

A parliamentary inquiry has recommended a drug court should be built in Dubbo and rehabilitation services should be increased.

A parliamentary inquiry into the provision of drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote NSW has made 12 recommendations.

Chaired by NSW MP Greg Donnelly, the inquiry has recommended a significant increase in funding to drug and alcohol-related health services and for a tender to establish more residential rehabilitation facilities for women and children, Aboriginal people and youths between 13 and 16 years old.

The enquiry has also recommended “that the NSW government pilot a Drug Court in Dubbo in parallel with an increase in rehabilitation services for the area”.

A drug court works with adult offenders who have addictions to break the their drug and crime cycle through an intensive program of rehabilitation through the health sector and criminal justice centre.

In the report, Mr Donnelly said more needed to be done to help those with suffer from drug and alcohol addiction.

“The committee heard time and time again that recovery from addiction is not a once and for all settled matter. As many witnesses attested it is a daily struggle that never ends, it is ‘one day at a time’,” he said.

“However, we do know that rehabilitation can and does work. The committee saw and heard, time and time again, cases of addicts’ lives being transformed by rehabilitation.”

There are four rehabilitation services near Dubbo, however most are at least a two-hour drive away. They also have waiting lists of at least two months.

As part of the inquiry process, hearings were held in six locations, including Dubbo and Broken Hill. Speaking at the Dubbo hearing, Salvation Army drug and alcohol case worker Joe Gordon said it was important for rehabilitation services to be available when needed. 

“If someone comes here and they want to go to detoxification, you have to get them in there and then that day, otherwise you will lose them and you might not see them again for three months, six months. You could even read about them in the paper ending up dead by overdose,” he said.

A further recommendation has been made for adult and youth Koori Courts to be trialed in various regional locations in NSW.

Dubbo Regional Council has been lobbying for more drug rehabilitation services since 2013. In October, the push was re-ignited with the create of a Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee.

The committee is also pushing for drug court, a residential rehab centre and a Koori court for Dubbo.

Councillor Stephen Lawrence, who also addressed the hearing in Dubbo, said the strong recommendations recognised the community will to deal with social issues. Council and the community now awaited the NSW government’s response, he said.