Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) hosted the first of three Question and Answer (Q&A) Panels last night, in a bid to secure funding in the upcoming NSW Government budget announcement, for a residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation centre in the Dubbo region.

The panel was facilitated by Barrister Joe Kellaway, panel members were Jeffrey Amatto, Anne Marie-Chandler, Joe Williams and Cyrena Harris. The panel discussed the business case which was commissioned by DRC in 2018, outlining the background behind the campaign and comprehensive research that has been conducted across the community. Each of the panel members then gave an emotional insight to their own lived experience with battling addiction.

DRC’s Director of Liveability Skye Price said the first panel session was extremely moving for the audience.

“This first panel made a huge impact on viewers. We heard about the panellists’ real lived experience in battling addiction and the flow-on effects addiction can have on an individual’s life. We also heard about the struggle the members endured in gaining access to rehabilitation services and the implications of distance between their families and also their cultural connection when they were trying to heal away from home,” said Ms Price.

The panel went live at 6:30pm streaming via DRC’s website, Facebook and Twitter account. The live one hour event reached more than 16,000 people on Facebook alone, and generated a lot of community conversation.

Facilitator Joe Kellaway said he was pleased with the community response to the panel event.  

“I am extremely proud to have been involved in DRC’s first of three Q&A panel events.  As a barrister operating here and in Sydney, I feel there is a huge injustice when it comes to the rehabilitation services available to people of Western NSW. There is no doubt, as outlined in the business case commissioned unusually by Dubbo Regional Council, that there is a need for a centre here in the Dubbo region. Incarceration should be the last resort for magistrates but they are denied an alternative that option in the Western region that their city counter parts have readily available,” said Mr Kellaway.

“The business case is done, Council has committed the land, and the Australian Government has dedicated $3 million. The case for a rehabilitation centre in the Dubbo region is tied up in a string for the state government to allocate funding in their upcoming budget announcement,” Mr Kellaway added.

The NSW Government is announcing its budget on 17 November 2020. Dubbo Regional is advocating for funding for construction and cover ongoing operational costs.

The recording of the panel and the  online pledge can be found at Dubbo Regional Council is encouraging residents and community groups to get online and take the pledge to demonstrate their support.

Last Edited: 15 Oct 2020

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