Second chance for Buttery funding
NSW government funding sought for a comprehensive methadone-to-abstinence program run from innovative Bangalow rehabilitation centre The Buttery may yet be granted after the Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries visited the facility yesterday with Ballina MP Don Page.
After spending an hour touring the site and discussions with executive director Barry Evans and chair Professor Robert Weatherby, Mr Humphries promised to revisit the funding application, which was originally rejected because it was deemed not of statewide benefit.
The minister said the NSW government had a pre-election commitment to put more money into developing innovative practice in 'step down' rehabilitation programs.
"We're getting caught in a rising demand for methadone across the state... we should be supporting the community in trying to reverse that trend," said Mr Humphries.
He described the Buttery as a 'stand out' facility and said its programs offered a good example of an integrated rehabilitation service offering both residential accommodation and follow-up outreach services.
Currently 20,000 people are registered to the state's methadone program. As a prescribed alternative to heroin, ex-heroin users have become reliant on it for long period of time
"It's intent was to reduce the harm associated with illicit substance abuse, but in some cases people have stayed on it for long periods of time and become dependent on it and don't see a way out of that particular lifestyle," said Mr Evans.
The proposed program would not physically extend the 30 bed residential unit at the centre, but provide dedicated beds to for people registered in the methadone step-down program.
Part of the funding would also provide for a comprehensive post-residential follow up service helping ex-addicts seek job and educational opportunities.