Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

APY Lands Substance Misuse Facility officially opened

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jay Weatherill MP, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation

The APY Substance Misuse Facility which provides rehabilitation services in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands was officially opened today in Amata.

The facility includes a mobile outreach program and residential rehabilitation service to help residents overcome their substance dependence, and ultimately reintegrate into their communities.

Residential rehabilitation services operate 24-hours a day, 7 days a week for people with substance abuse problems, including petrol sniffing which has had a devastating impact on families and the community.

The mobile outreach service provides assessment, counselling and drug education in communities. It advises and supports family members of people affected by petrol sniffing and substance abuse.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Jay Weatherill, were in Amata for the opening.

Ms Macklin said Commissioner Ted Mullighan’s inquiry into child sexual abuse had made it clear that tackling substance abuse was fundamental to keeping children and families safe.

“Helping people overcome the scourge of substance abuse is crucial to protecting children from neglect and abuse,” Ms Macklin said.

The Australian and State Governments have together contributed more than $4 million ($3.3 million and $965,000 respectively) to the construction of the facility, with the South Australian Government providing ongoing operating funds of $1.4 million a year.

Mr Weatherill said the facility was another step in the State Government’s strategy to rebuild APY Lands communities, which began with its intervention on the Lands in 2004.

“We are rebuilding communities by reducing substance abuse and delivering better health and welfare services,” Mr Weatherill said.

“The reduction in petrol sniffing – a remarkable 83 per cent fall between 2004 and 2007 – is testament to the strength of these communities in tackling these problems.

“The next step in the strategy is to reduce overcrowding with the construction process for the Australian Government’s $25 million housing offer due to commence as soon as leases are issued.”

South Australian Mental Health and Substance Abuse Minister Jane Lomax-Smith said the facility provides a range of treatment and rehabilitation services for people on the APY Lands who are experiencing problems caused by substance misuse.

“Services aim to combat dependence and assist people to reintegrate into their communities,” Dr Lomax-Smith said.

“The residential facility and mobile outreach service complements existing state-funded community petrol sniffing programs and youth programs that provide healthy activities for young Anangu to help prevent petrol sniffing.”

The mobile outreach service has operated since November 2006 and continues to receive referrals from a variety of sources including South Australia Police. To date this service has assisted more than 110 people.

“This service has been developed through extensive consultation with the local community and the uptake of this program is a testament to the support and participation of the local community,” Mr Weatherill said.

The facility employs staff with specialist substance misuse skills, such as experienced nurses, and Anangu staff, who ensure services effectively connect with the local community.

‘We know that a strong Indigenous health workforce will be critical to improving Indigenous health services in the long term,’ Ms Macklin said.