Need for more facilities to help teens get clean: Mission Australia

More detoxification beds are need for youths, says Mission Australia area manager Luke Butcher.

A parliamentary inquiry has been undertaken into the provision of drug rehabilitation services in region, rural and remote NSW. It recommended the NSW government pilot a Drug Court in Dubbo in parallel with an increase in rehabilitation services for the area.

However, Mission Australia has also cried out for more services to help 13 to 16-year-olds.

Speaking at one of the parliamentary inquiry hearings, Mr Butcher said between 60 to 70 per cent of young people who use the Mission Australia services in his area have a primary caregiver or parent who uses substances regularly at home.


If the young people also had substance problems it was really important to get them away from that home environment, he said.

“There are no detox beds available in NSW for that cohort,” Mr Butcher said.

“Of course the 13 to 16-year-olds generally will not have the level of dependence and withdrawal syndrome as the older year range but you have those psychosocial factors at home where mum might be using, dad might be using and mothers might be using, etc, which makes home-based detox not necessarily the best option for those young people.”

It was also important to support the parents to work on their drug or alcohol issues while the youths are detoxing.

“We had a young man that went home –  this was about 12 months ago – and we were taking to mum about getting him ready to come home. She had gone to the bottlo and bought a couple of cartons and said ‘oh well, he’s not going to have pot but we’ll just have some beer’,” Mr Butcher said.

There was an attitude that those who had been through treatment were ‘fixed’, he said.

Dubbo does have a rehabilitation facility for young people but it does not provide detoxification. Mac River is an eight-bed residential rehabilitation centre for teenagers 13 to 18 years. It is partnered with Juvenile Justice.

The centre offers individualised programs including counselling, life skills and case work.

Triple Care Farm, a residential rehabilitation facility for young people in the Southern Highlands, has a three month waiting list for its services.

Program manager Gabriella Holmes told the inquiry she receives upwards of 30 phone calls per week about the services available for young people.