Kimberley’s youth to receive specialised addiction service post-redesign

Cain AndrewsBroome Advertiser
Children on the streets of Halls Creek.
Camera IconChildren on the streets of Halls Creek. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

The Mental Health Commission has reiterated its commitment to establishing a dedicated addiction service for youth in the Kimberley despite not specifying when it might open its doors.

In the 2019-20 budget, the WA Government allocated $9.2 million over three years for the design and commission of an alcohol and other drugs service for young people in the Kimberley.

But following a recent consultation with local stakeholders, Mental Health Commissioner Maureen Lewis said the service was undergoing a redesign and cited COVID-19 as the cause of the rollout delay.

“The Mental Health Commission is committed to the delivery of the Kimberley AOD Youth Service, however delivery of this service was delayed due to impacts of COVID-19,” she said.

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“Through engaging with key stakeholders in the region post-COVID-19, including the Kimberley Aboriginal Regional Governance Group, we recognised that a review and redesign of the proposed service was needed. This process is under way.

“The Commission has been working closely with the ARGG on a co-designed procurement process to establish the service, which will be led by an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation.”

A timeline of when Kimberley might see the service open its doors and how much it will cost was not provided.

It comes as the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People Jacqueline McGowan-Jones put the call out for public feedback on four new discussion papers on youth justice, child protection, mental health and education on January 22 which state there is “limited availability of (addiction) treatment services that meet the specific needs of children and young people” in WA.

The Mental Health paper also states treatment for addiction in young people “required” the implementation of a multifaceted approach including “detoxification, rehabilitation and recovery support”.

On January 9, The West Australian revealed that at least eight children had taken their lives while under the influence in the Kimberley between 2016 and 2020.

The promise from the Mental Health Commission comes just a week after the Commissioner confirmed the search to replace Broome’s Sobering Up Centre, which was moved to a smaller stop-gap facility out of town two years ago, had not started.

The Broome Sobering Up Centre, also known as the Walangari Shelter, was first moved out of the town centre in October 2021 after asbestos was discovered on the site.

A stopgap sobering-up centre was established near Milliya Rumurra Rehabilitation Centre, a 10-minute drive out of town, which has run at a reduced capacity, from 26 beds to 12.

Ms Lewis last week told the Broome Advertiser that despite the search not having started more than two years after the relocation of the SUC, it was “still a priority”.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

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