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ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services

A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into the drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities.

user iconEmma Musgrave 18 January 2018 The Bar
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
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The ALS survey revealed that an overwhelming majority (99 per cent) of people believe there are insufficient rehabilitation services in Aboriginal communities.

A further 90 per cent said long waiting lists (three months on average) was an “insurmountable barrier” to receiving rehabilitation, while 86 per cent said the cost of accessing rehabilitation services is prohibitive.

In addition, 82 per cent of respondents labelled ice and methamphetamine addictions as a “high priority” for treatment.


“The forums and the survey results have again shown how substance abuse, particularly the prevalence of ice, is devastating our communities and how there are inadequate drug rehabilitation services available to meet the growing demand from Aboriginal people in regional, rural and remote areas,” ALS chief executive officer Lesley Turner said.

“The vast majority of people surveyed told us that drug rehabilitation services are not easy to get into – particularly, there are a lack of services for young Aboriginal people in our communities. Their feedback indicated how it was crucial to develop community-designed and community-led solutions together with expert health advice to address the high rates of drug dependency among some Aboriginal people.

“For example, many respondents cited the urgent need for ‘wraparound’ services and support to be provided after rehabilitation, not only to the individual, but also to the whole family. These types of services would not only address the underlying issues that lead to substance abuse, but provide much-needed support and counselling for the individual and their family and manage possible triggers that may cause a relapse.”

Mr Turner said feedback from the survey suggests that successful drug rehabilitation services should involve “cultural appropriateness (preferably an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation); local community connection/engagement; and specific services for men, women and children”.

In conclusion, Mr Turner thanked the respondents, noting that they have assisted the ALS in its submission to the upcoming Parliamentary Inquiry into the provision of drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote NSW.

The ALS has also proposed to convene a roundtable between senior NSW government representatives and peak Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and service providers from the areas of law and justice, health, welfare, housing, education, and family and children’s services.

“Working from the feedback we’ve obtained from the community forums and the survey, a roundtable would help develop a holistic, community-led and controlled model of drug rehabilitation services for Aboriginal people in rural, regional and remote NSW communities,” Mr Turner explained.