The different sentencing options between Dubbo and Sydney, where there is a drug court, is "blood boiling", says barrister Joe Kellaway.
Mr Kellaway was the facilitator at Dubbo Regional Council's question and answer on Tuesday night about the need for a rehabilitation facility in the region. It included panelists Jeffery Amatto, Joe Williams, Anne-Marie Chandler and Cyrena Harris who spoke about their own experiences with addition and rehabilitation.
Council's chief executive officer Michael McMahon said the organisation was doing "everything we possibly can" to secure the funding in the upcoming NSW government budget.
Council has been pushing for a drug court and rehabilitation facility since 2017. Council has committed to supplying the land for a rehab, while the federal government has promised $3 million, but an additional $2 million is needed from the NSW government, as well as another $2.7 million every year for it to run.
Mr Kellaway, who practices mainly in criminal law, has seen the differences between areas that have options like a drug court available, and Dubbo, which does not.
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"The drug court in this state at Parramatta started in 1999 and 20 years later, Dubbo has no drug court, Dubbo has no residential rehabilitation facility, Dubbo has no specific detoxification facility and no compulsory drug treatment program," he said.
"The inequity is palpable."
Speaking at the Q&A, Mr Kellaway said illegal drugs like ice did not discriminate.
"Say any of you have a son or a daughter or a parent or a friend and as they start to leave home, they become involved with the wrong crowd and before you can stop it they develop a particular addiction and somehow they become a stranger too. They change over time and they're not the person you once knew," he said.
"Small infringements begin to occur, convictions and fines or bonds, bail hearings, eventually they find themselves charged with q serious offence, facing a serious custodial term that wholly related to their addiction.
"If you were in Parramatta, you would be referred to the drug court, you would be referred to residential rehabilitation. A magistrate or a judge can defer that person into getting treatment.
"A magistrate or a judge in Dubbo has no such power. Because there is no such power here to do that."
The barrister told the Daily Liberal there could be two cases that for all intents and purposes could be the same, but the sentencing options were vastly different.
"If you're in the course of a single week one day doing one case in the Sydney CBD and then another in Dubbo, the inequity becomes blood boiling sometimes. Because you're dealing with families and people who actually go through the process and you can't rationally explain it other than the facilities and the infrastructure just hasn't been given," Mr Kellaway said.
One day he's focusing on getting a client into a compulsory drug treatment program, the next in Dubbo, he says the focus of a similar case will be on the length of a non-parole period.
Mr Kellaway said the community needed to focus on getting a rehabilitation facility and drug court so the city could catch up to everyone else.
Council launches pledge
Those who want to see a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Dubbo are being encouraged to sign Dubbo Regional Council's new pledge.
It asks those who are pledging support to give their details, say the are in favour of a rehab in the Dubbo local government area and gives respondents the chance to say why it's needed.
For more information on the facility, or to sign the pledge, head to dubbo.nsw.gov.au/dubboneedsarehab.