Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen, who described crystal methamphetamine use in Mackay as particularly rife, has revealed $675,000 will be spent on new services over three years in the region.
Tenders “went live” overnight, he said, and the tender called for “service models that provide substance users, and their support systems, better access to detoxification, information, counselling, support, including post treatment support” and more.
The money is part of $11.6million in Federal Government funding announced in June last year, aimed at reducing demand for ice and addict-based crime in northern Queensland by supporting rehabilitation services to help get addicts off the drug and out of the drug market.
The trickle of funding, which has already paid for school-based prevention programs, according to Mr Christensen, will continue as Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) hashes out where and to which organisations the money will go.
Mr Christensen said he’s regularly “had contact with parents of ice addicts” and he was “well aware there’s a significant problem throughout the region”.
“Anecdotally, I hear it’s a bigger problem than other areas (across Queensland). And we need to get on top of it,” he said.
“We need to deal with the people using and it, that certainly needs to happen, and helping those who could potentially be addicted.
“Also, we need the law enforcement side of things and federal dollars are also going into the (Crime Stoppers’) Dob in a Dealer program. There’s also more funding, which has gone to law enforcement so they’re capably equipped to bust those either producing or dealing in our region.”
The round of funding from the National Ice Action Strategy “is not the only funding coming into the area” and more is expected in coming months, Mr Christensen said.
He described new detox and rehab services as crucial to combating the “ice epidemic” in the region.
“I’m not an expert but I hear from locals there’s a need for dedicated rehab facilities,” Mr Christensen said.
“And we already have new services in the region as a result of that ($11.6m) funding. In our schools there is a substance abuse prevention program funded by the PHN, which does deal with ice in particular.”
Mr Christensen was unable to say how much of the millions in funding would definitively be spent in Mackay.
“The decision lies with the PHN and they’ve gone out and done consultation, detailed consultation, with community groups to see the areas they need to target with the funding,” he said.
“We’ll have to wait to see when further funding will become available to know more.”
However, new diversion and community prevention programs are currently under discussion, Mr Christensen said.
He was “confident a local organisation like NQPHN will get it to the right outlets, other than Canberra”.
“If the decisions were being made down there I’d be a bit nervous,” Mr Christensen said.
A Primary Health Network spokesman said “extensive consultation” had been undertaken with a range of Mackay region stakeholders.
He said the NQPHN was confident new services would provide “the foundation for a sustainable local drug and alcohol treatment system”.
Ozcare does run a rehab service in Mackay, but states it’s for people who have already “stopped taking drugs and alcohol and who want to recover from the effects of their addiction”, not for detox.
This piece was first published on ‘CQNews’ on January 21, 2017.