The budget did not hold much good news for the indigenous community in the area of Health either. There continues to be an ongoing concern with the high numbers of indigenous community suffering from tobacco, alcohol and drug addiction.
Recent data showed that as many as 31% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over, reportedly used drugs and other substances in the last 12 months. And these numbers are on the rise according to the latest ROGS data.
Because of the move away, from an indigenous rehabilitation service at the Ngunnawal Bush Healing farm, despite claims from this government that it was never intended, the indigenous peoples of Canberra are once again left without a culturally appropriate drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. This community is in dire need of such a centre. Currently, patients travel to Wagga Wagga, or to Nowra, each a minimum six hour return journey by car for family to visit.
Because of the decision by this government not to run a therapeutic drug and alcohol rehab centre at the Tidbinbilla site, despite spending more than twelve million dollars on the building, the indigenous community is left with a large gap in the services provided. Current spaces in non-indigenous care are limited. Yet this is a key health issue for the community, linked to various medical and mental health conditions, and leading to increasing numbers of social problems, including incarceration.
Why does this government fail to recognise this need, or support the community through funding a culturally appropriate facility here in the ACT that could meet this urgent need?
Or, if not a purpose-built facility – then at least provide with better funding and facilities, those organisations in the ACT that work in the indigenous community to provide support and intervention for Alcohol, drugs and tobacco addictions .
We note with approval that the government has budgeted for a new health centre for Winnunga, though the delivery is not till 2020. We call on the government to speed up the funding arrangements for the new centre so it can be opened sooner rather than later, to meet the growing and ongoing needs of the community.