The Guardian • Issue #2104

Kimberly: ‘We shouldn’t have to wait’

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2104
Gwion Gwion rock paintings in the Kimberley region of WA.

Gwion Gwion rock paintings in the Kimberley region of WA. Photo: TimJN1 – Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services has warned that new liquor restrictions announced for Broome and Derby this week “are not enough” in isolation.

In a statement, the organisation said: “We need simultaneous investment in comprehensive alcohol and other drugs services, planning, and infrastructure.

KAMS issued a Call to Action on 15 February this year urging a holistic approach to alcohol and other drugs.

“Every day, we see the harmful effects of alcohol and other drug misuse on Kimberley people, families, and communities,” the peak body said.

“While we do not oppose restrictions, they must be part of a holistic Aboriginal-led approach that includes health, social, and diversionary strategies.”

KAMS noted that since the Call to Action three months ago, the WA Minister for Health and Mental Health committed $300,000 to KAMS to develop an Aboriginal-led Alcohol and Other Drugs Plan.

“This plan will be created in partnership with KAMS’ Member Services and the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Planning Forum, in consultation with Kimberley Aboriginal people, communities, and stakeholders,” the group said.

KAMS chief executive Vicki O’Donnell, CEO of KAMS said Aboriginal medical services in the region “appreciate the commitment from the Minister to develop this regional plan, which will provide a roadmap for the State and Commonwealth governments to invest in alcohol and other drug services across the region into the future.”

“This plan will clearly document Aboriginal-led solutions to address the broader spectrum of alcohol and drug misuse within our region,” she said.

The Call to Action in February also requested investment in services for Derby and Broome, including funding for the Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS) to build a Wellness Centre and funding for Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation to establish additional residential rehabilitation beds and a new withdrawal/detox service.

KMAS noted that the state government advised it “cannot commit to funding these services, and that these initiatives may be considered in the future in the context of the regional plan.”

“The need for immediate investment in alcohol and other drugs services, on the ground, is not new,” O’Donnell said.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for this planning exercise to be completed to get started on these solutions already identified by local communities. KAMS will continue to advocate alongside DAHS and Milliya Rumurra for these necessary services.”

KAMS said it is committed to keeping its Call to Action at the forefront of discussions with the WA government, and look forward to working with its Member Services and the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Planning Forum to “drive a collective effort to enhance health outcomes and reduce alcohol and other drug-related harm across the Kimberley”.

National Indigenous Times

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