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$3m for Northern Rivers drug rehabs a 'huge win'

Experts hope a forum into crystal methamphetamine use in Tweed will help to tackle the issue.
Experts hope a forum into crystal methamphetamine use in Tweed will help to tackle the issue. John Gass

A SUITE of drug and alcohol rehab clinics will tackle addiction on the Tweed, after a $3m boost to North Coast Primary Health Network services announced on Wednesday.

The funding follows a 2016 survey which found alcohol misuse and illicit drug addiction were the most serious health issue facing NSW North Coast residents.

Nearly 60% of residents said services to deal with this issue were difficult to access.

NCPHN chief executive Dr Vahid Saberi said nearly 30% of residents aged over 16 years consumed alcohol at levels that pose a lifetime risk to health.

"To tackle this disturbing trend, NCPHN used our commissioning process to put in place the services most needed in particular communities,” Dr Saberi said.

"These services will make a positive contribution to the health and well-being of many in our community.”

$3m in funding from the Federal Government's National ICE Strategy will be distributed through the North Coast Primary Health Network to a range of services to address the problem.

Assistant Health Minister Dr David Gillespie said the network's work would result in a range of local services.

"These services include early intervention programs, counselling, working with at risk young people in schools, providing support to family and carers, community rehab programs and educating health professionals,” Dr Gillespie said.

The Buttery's roving community rehabilitation program, visiting Lismore, Byron Bay and Tweed Heads, will have its six-week program funded.

The program is designed to help drug-users who cannot attend in-house rehab, such as sole parents, and is expected in Tweed early 2018.

A new Community and Family Support Services early intervention and counselling program for people with mental health issues will be delivered in the Tweed Local Government Area.

New funding will also be provided for existing Rekindling The Spirit and Lismore Aboriginal Health Service Jullums Drug and Alcohol Service projects as well as Namatjira Haven, Alstonville.

Namatjira programs offer help to Aboriginal men facing complex drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

A new DrugArm Australasia program for those over 16 will also be rolled out locally to support people within their social and family environments.

North Coast Primary Health Network mental health reform director Dr Megan Lawrence told the Tweed Daily News the funding was "a massive step to help residents access drug and alcohol rehabilitation services”.

"It's absolutely a huge win for the community,” she said.

"We encourage people to go to their GP for help but people can also go directly to the services (by finding them on the internet)”.

Topics:  namatjira haven north coast primary health network northern rviers crime


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