Representatives from The Buttery give evidence at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the provision of drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote NSW at Lismore City Hall on Tuesday.
Representatives from The Buttery give evidence at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the provision of drug rehabilitation services in regional, rural and remote NSW at Lismore City Hall on Tuesday. Liana Turner

Rehab 'is not prison': Inquiry hears more funding needed

SOME people are being sent to rehab without proof of an addiction, while facilities struggle to find beds for those who need one.

That's according to evidence before the parliamentary inquiry into the provision of drug rehabilitation in regional, rural and remote NSW.

At the inquiry's hearing in Lismore yesterday, its sixth and final session outside of Sydney, Namatjira Haven's Dian Edwards said some misdiagnosed clients were being sent to their Alstonville centre, which caters to Aboriginal men. Ms Edwards said potential rehab residents needed "better assessment” processes.

She said Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment-run assessments were no longer funded for those in custody and stressed their beds should be for those with legitimate addiction and should "not be treated like a prison”.

She also urged the committee to consider those with drug and alcohol issues to be treated medically, not criminally.

She told the inquiry Namatjira had 14 beds, including two MERIT diversion beds and three "transitional beds” funded by NSW Corrections.

The Buttery's clinical manager Jenny McGee said more funding for services and facilities was needed.

Ms McGee said she was concerned at the lack of residential rehab beds available to juveniles and women who are the sole carers of children.

"We need a wide range of services that include all of the community,” Ms McGee said.

Other witnesses included representatives of Gunnebah Addiction Retreat in Nobbys Creek and Byron Private Holistic Treatment Centre.

The committee heard these groups wanted to see a stronger accreditation system for rehabilitation centres but one which wouldn't removediverse treatment options.

Lismore City councillor Eddie Lloyd, chair of the council's new Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee, and Legal Aid solicitor Hugh van Dugteren, also gave evidence.