Funding boost for local drug treatment services

More drug and alcohol treatment services are available in North Brisbane for people who need support to overcome methamphetamine (ice) and other forms of substance dependence.

An additional $5 million in Federal funding over three years will significantly increase the capacity of local service providers to meet demand for alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Courtesy Ten Eyewitness News

Brisbane North PHN‘s Executive Manager for Commissioned Services Pauline Coffey said the new funding would help people regain control of their lives and break the cycle of dependence.

“Treatment service providers and families of those affected have been calling for more help, so I am pleased we can now provide additional resources to support recovery,” she said.

The PHN has been working closely with the alcohol and other drug treatment sector to plan the services needed in North Brisbane and has selected three agencies to deliver these services.

Lives Lived Well has been commissioned to deliver alcohol and other drug treatment services in the Moreton Bay region, where the greatest need was identified.

“The PHN has also commissioned the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) to deliver culturally appropriate alcohol and other drug treatment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, primarily across the Moreton Bay region,” Ms Coffey said.

“Additionally, we have commissioned the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (QNADA) to support development of the alcohol and other drugs workforce.

“While we are careful not to underestimate the scale of the problem we face, I am confident the most capable service providers have been selected to address this challenge and I congratulate them on their successful tender applications,” she said.

Lives Lived Well CEO Mitchell Giles said today’s launch marks a significant boost to Brisbane north services, with free community-based alcohol and drug support being made available to the region for the first time.

“We expect that about 70 per cent of people seeking support at the new service will be experiencing problems with methamphetamines (ice),” Mr Giles said.

“Our counsellors are trained to support people who have problems with any kind of drug, including alcohol, and can offer flexibility, intensive care involving counselling, day programs, group work and case management,” he said.

IUIH Chief Executive Adrian Carson said these new services will enable the IUIH to expand its existing substance misuse and mental health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across one of Australia’s fastest Indigenous growing population.

“These services will be fully integrated with the comprehensive primary healthcare service already being delivered by the IUIH Members,” Mr Carson said.

QNADA Chief Executive Rebecca Lang said she looked forward to providing additional workforce support to professionals in the alcohol and other drug treatment sector.

“We are very pleased to see the opening of the Strathpine Lives Lived Well service, the first alcohol and other drug specialist service for Strathpine and the region which is great news for the community,” Ms Land said.

Clients may access treatment services via self-referral, professional referral (e.g. GP, Hospital, Emergency Services) or through an outreach service.

On 6 December 2015, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the Government would invest $241.5 million through the 31 Primary Health Networks to boost the alcohol and other drug treatment sector and reduce demand for ice.

Primary Health Networks took on responsibility for planning and funding additional alcohol and other drug treatment services on 1 July 2016.

Following comprehensive needs assessment, Brisbane North PHN identified there was significant need for alcohol and drug treatment services in the Moreton Bay north and Strathpine areas within the PHN region.

People experiencing drug or alcohol problems can call Lives Lived Well on 1300 727 957. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people can call IUIH on 07 3648 9500.

First published by Brisbane North PHN on February 20, 2017.


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Villain or hero, Huggins demands Indigenous rights

Following her recent address to the United Nations in New York, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Dr Jackie Huggins has called for a “meaningful and genuine relationship” between Australia’s leaders and its Indigenous people.

Dr Huggins told a gathering of almost 200 Sorry Day mourners in Brisbane she knew she would return as either “a villain or a hero” after her fiery speech to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

“A hero to my mob, but the government don’t like me,” Dr Huggins said.

“But that won’t change,” she added, lamenting the Commonwealth’s “inability to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples“.

Dr Jackie Huggins AM

Jackie Huggins speaking at a Sorry Day ceremony in Brisbane.

Dr Huggins drew attention to Article 18 of the Declaration, which gives Indigenous peoples the right to participate in decision-making in matters that affect their rights.

According to the Declaration, decision-making should occur through representatives chosen by Indigenous people in accordance with their own procedures. It also allows for them to maintain and develop their own Indigenous decision-making institutions.

“I co-chair the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. We are the elected body, which the government defunded in 2013. So we’re living off the dregs, I suppose, of that funding,” Dr Huggins said.

Reflecting on news she had received on her way to the ceremony regarding the lack of funding for local reconciliation groups, Dr Huggins said it was “appalling, when you have a Prime Minister who says he wants to work with us”.

“And this government, I say to people, it’s the worst I’ve seen in my four decades of working in the field of Aboriginal policy and reconciliation,” Dr Huggins said.

“So things, my friends, are still very bad for us,” she added.

“We would love a meaningful and genuine relationship with our leaders of our country. We’re asking them to show leadership and we’re asking them to help us out, in terms of eradicating the horrible social statistics that we still face in our country.

“And in a rich country, we are the poorest. We are the most incarcerated. We are the less educated, less employed…the system is failing us,” she said.

Large crown of people gather in a garden setting

Sorry Day ceremony on Sunday, May 29, in the Balaangala Community Garden, The Gap.

Those who had gathered in the Balaangala Community Garden, in the Brisbane northside suburb of The Gap, were urged to contact their elected representatives to demand leadership on reconciliation.

Among the Aboriginal elders at the ceremony were members of the Stolen Generations, those who had been removed from their families by the state as children.

One of them was Aunty Marlene Wilson, who recalled her own harrowing tale of being taken into care multiples times and abused.

“In every type of care, they were supposed to be looking after me and I’m not the only one,” Ms Wilson said.

People singing and playing guitar

Aunty Marlene Wilson and Tom Smith perform Brought up White at the Balaangala Sorry Day ceremony.

She and fellow song writer Tom Smith performed a song for those present, beginning with the haunting refrain:

Granma was a blackfella, she was told her baby died
Mum was given away, so she could be brought up white

The Balaangala Community Group has held a Sorry Day ceremony in the same location every year since 2009.

The group says the ceremonies give the local community the chance to come together to share the steps towards healing for the children, the families and communities of the Stolen Generations.

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‘Ailan Kastom’ on show in Brisbane

Brisbane played host to a celebration of Torres Strait Islander culture on January 26 this year with a public screening of an award-winning documentary.

Elders at Reconciliation Qld film event.

Speakers at the RQI event included (L-R) Uncle Thomas Sebasio (Torres Strait Islander Elder), Uncle Des Sandy (Yuggera Elder), Aunty Heather Castledine (RQI Co-Chair), and Mr Peter Jackson (RQI Co-Chair).

Attendance numbers for the film Ailan Kastom: The Culture of the Torres Strait exceeded all expectations, which was a positive sign for Queensland’s reconciliation movement according to the organisers.

Reconciliation Queensland Co-Chair Aunty Heather Castledine said Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians had come together as one community searching for a deeper meaning to their national day.

“We welcome everyone at our gatherings, but this time it almost felt like everyone was actually there. It was a full house,” Aunty Heather said.

“I’d particularly like to thank Aunty Rosalie Raciti for arranging everything. She did a remarkable job,” she said.

“The film was very well received, as were the Songlines Community Choir who performed a repertoire of traditional songs from the Torres Strait.

“For the finale, a number of the elders got up on stage to sing Baba Waian with the choir and the atmosphere was just electric.

“It was such an emotional moment for all of us. I think the film really must have brought that out,” Aunty Heather said.

Elders and choir members singing

Elders lead the Songlines Community Choir in a rendition of Baba Waian at the RQI film event.

Ailan Kastom is a documentary about Torres Strait culture covering the history and geography of the region as well as the language, music, dance, art and ceremonies of its First Peoples.

Directed by Brett Charles of Leftfield Productions, Cairns, the film won the best documentary category at the Queensland Multimedia Awards in 2014.

Torres Strait Islander elder Uncle Thomas Sebasio shared his reflections and experiences with the audience shortly after the screening.

“My relations round here, my countrymen, we took our culture with us when we left our homeland,” Uncle Thomas said.

“As one part in the film said: ‘whatever your culture, your language, your traditional dance, you’re a part of your land and sea’.

“That’s very, very important to all of us,” he said.

The event was hosted at Arana Leagues Club, in the city’s northwest, and included table displays and sales of traditional artworks and educational resources.

Many children’s books were also donated on the day, which Reconciliation Queensland will arrange to have sent to schools in the Torres Strait.


A version of this story was first published in the Koori Mail on Feb 10 and then again in the Torres News on Feb 22, 2016.

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