'Wet camp’ proposal for Darwin itinerants


HEALTH Minister Natasha Fyles says she hasn't ruled out potentially setting up a "wet camp" in Darwin where itinerants can drink safely and be monitored.

A proposal to set up a "wet camp" was first raised by Mission Australia - who run Darwin's overloaded sobering up shelter - earlier this year amid growing concerns of itinerants drinking in the city.

Larrakia Nation chief executive Robert Cooper said they also wanted to explore the idea after patrols saw a massive 60 per cent spike in alcohol-related call-outs this year.



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"Myself and a couple of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) have convened a workshop on April 29," he told Mix 104.9.

"We've invited all the NGOs and government agencies to come together and see how we can provide a safe place for people who want to come to town and want to have a drink."

Ms Fyles said she had not ruled out a possibility for a "wet camp" in Darwin.

"I won't rule it out but it's not as simple as establishing a facility," she said.


Larrakia Nation chief executive Robert Cooper. Photograph: Che Chorley
Larrakia Nation chief executive Robert Cooper. Photograph: Che Chorley


"It's very complex; there's a lot of clinical work that needs to go into that so that we can provide those appropriate supports.

"There is a facility in North Queensland, and so we need to acknowledge that it's a range of measures but these are complex.

"We need to listen to the clinical advice; we need to work with communities around putting these measures in place."

The concept of wet camps and wet houses, where people can drink in a controlled space, was addressed in the Reilly review.

"Wet houses currently operate in Canada, the United States of America, Norway, and the United Kingdom," the report said.


"The evaluation of wet houses overseas has demonstrated that participants have improvements in mental health, social connectedness and general wellbeing across a variety of quantitative and qualitative indicators.

"There are also reductions in alcohol-related harms and alcohol dependence.

"The evidence shows that participants drink less non-beverage alcohol (mouthwash, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser) after joining the program, and they reduce consumption in more hazardous settings.

"Although the research on wet houses is limited, there is growing evidence that this approach may provide a solution to breaking the cycle of contact with police and chronic homelessness for some people."

It comes after Mission Australia's NT regional leader Michael Soler recently said nightly admissions at Mission Australia's Darwin sobering up shelter had tripled compared to 2018.

Due to a surge in demand over recent months, he said the 40-bed facility was full by 6pm most nights, and they often had to turn people away.







Originally published as Fyles hasn't ruled out 'wet camp' proposal for Darwin itinerants

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