A THOROUGH investigation into current residential drug rehabilitation facilities statewide, and the services they offer, was a key action to come out of the Bundaberg Region Community Ice Forum Working Party meeting this week.

Held on Tuesday 4 October, it was attended by Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett. Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson was an apology.

The meeting also included Clinical Director of the Wide Bay Health & Hospital Service Alcohol and Other Drugs (WBHHS AOD) service Dr Kees Nydam, Primary Health Network General Manager for the Wide Bay region Tracey Warhurst and PHN AOD Coordinator for Wide Bay Marie Walshe, head of IWC’s AOD program Lee Hammond, Acting CEO of Bridges Health & Community Care Mark Fog, Bundaberg Councillors Helen Blackburn and Peter Heuser, and representatives of the Queensland Police Service. The meeting was called by co-facilitator of the 2 June Community Ice Forum Janette Young, of IWC.

"It was agreed by the group that the investigation into the residential facilities currently in operation will be undertaken by PHN. The aim would be to identify as much detail around operations, costings, motivation, outcomes, and to look for gaps in services from the perspective of AOD clients in need of treatment,” said Ms Young.

"It also was identified that there was insufficient data currently to hand to identify the true area of need around AOD, and in particular drug rehabilitation and treatment, in the Bundaberg region. The Working Party agreed that further data collation utilising a range of channels – including police, AOD services, frontline provider services around health and community – was required.

"Liaison with the Queensland Network of Drug and Alcohol Agencies (QNADA), to take a consistent statewide approach to appropriate data collation, was seen by the group as a good way to approach this.”

PHN has recently established a Strategic Collaborative Drug and Alcohol Working Group for the Wide Bay - of which IWC, Bridges and WBHHS are members - which also has identified the need to collate cross-community data around AOD in the region. The next meeting of the PHN Working Group is on 18 October.

"IWC has offered as a potential site the current IWC Home Farm at Calavos, formerly the Yaamba Drug and Alcohol Hostel for Men, but made clear to the Community Ice Forum Working Party that it was not the only option on the table. It also made clear that IWC had driven the forum only as a community service to ensure the voice of the grassroots in Bundaberg was heard as strategies around AOD were developed at a Wide Bay and State level, feeding into the Federal focus around Ice and other drugs.”

IWC and Bundaberg Regional Council proposed an alternative site to the Working Group that could be considered for a possible rehabilitation facility in Bundaberg region, and it was agreed to set up a visit to investigate the potential.

"Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, who played an active role in the discussion at the meeting, emphasised that whole-of-community support and cooperation would be important as and when funding was sought for a rehabilitation facility in Bundaberg region. A clear understanding of AOD in the region, and its direct social and health impacts, would also be important, as would a collaborative plan around delivery of solutions along with an outline of cost benefits,” said Ms Young.

"This is something the whole community can agree with, and work towards. To have achieved this next step is a credit to the strength of community spirit and purpose that drives our region.

"IWC is pleased to have been able to use its proven track record as an outcome-focused, community-run organisation to lead the way to raise the awareness of drug and alcohol issues in Bundaberg region, including important infrastructure and resources, with the aim of better assisting our clients and the whole community on a successful journey to recovery.”


WORKING TOGETHER: Pictured from left before the first Bundaberg Region Community Ice Forum Working Party into a potential residential rehabilitation facility are (back row) Bundaberg Councillor Peter Heuser, IWC Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) program manager Lee Hammond, Const Tim Clark of Queensland Police Service (QPS), Dr Kees Nydam of Wide Bay Health and Hospital Service AOD service, Bundaberg Region Community Ice Forum co-facilitator Janette Young of IWC. Front row: IWC Executive Leanne Connors, Acting CEO of Bridges Mark Fog, Marie Walshe of Primary Health Network (PHN), Kyrra Wilson of QPS, PHN Wide Bay Manager Tracey Warhurst, Bundaberg Councillor Helen Blackburn, Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett. Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey attended the meeting and played an active role in discussion, but was a later arrival. Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson was an apology. The meeting was held at the IWC Home Farm, formerly the Yaamba Drug and Alcohol Hostel for Men at Calavos.