Emotional pleas to relocate drug rehab centre control forum
TENSIONS were high from the first comment at the community consultation for the proposed location of Rockhampton's drug rehabilitation facility.
After a brief introduction by Deputy Director-General Clinical Excellence Queensland DrJohn Wakefield, the panel opened the floor to comments and questions from the audience.
Rockhampton region councillor Stephen Schwarten was the first to take the microphone, speaking from his own experience with addiction and the need for the centre.
His address was short-lived as he fled hecklers in the audience.
Edenbrook resident Pat Egan then took the stage and spoke on behalf of the Stand Together And Say No group.
Their message remained the same, agreeing a residential facility was needed but not near the Riverside and Edenbrook residential area.
"We are not against a centre but we are against this location,” MrEgan said.
"We haven't been treated with much respect and dignity.”
He asked panel members to be honest, to listen to the concerns of the community and to go away and try to find an appropriate site.
Treatment services at the site will include 32-beds for individual residential rehabilitation, an eight-bed withdrawal management unit and two family units, which will allow children to stay alongside their parents undergoing treatment.
Security, safety and proximity were the main concerns for the countless residents in the audience.
Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies Ltd CEO and panel member Rebecca Lang responded to concerns by stressing the strict criteria surrounding patient admission to the site.
"They are drug-tested at least once a week,” MsLang said.
"These are structured programs, every minute from the time they get in are monitored.”
She said those admitted would be voluntary patients, not those ordered to rehabilitation by courts.
"The likelihood that you will even see people who are walking around your neighbourhood is low,” she said.
The voluntary patients "are the people that are your mums, dads and cousins,” she said.
Ms Lang said no one who had committed violent or sexual offences would be admitted to the facility.
Several audience members voiced their own negative experiences with those using drugs and the need for a facility but remained certain the Birkbeck Dr location was not the appropriate place.
Moderator Dr Wakefield attempted to veer the conversation away from the specific location and towards what the facility would provide, but his efforts were mostly unsuccessful with residents keeping their message clear - there needed to be a new location.
Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow was cheered by the audience when she announced discussions to sell the Music Bowl site to the State Government had recommenced.
The council and State Government were previously in negotiations over the site but they had failed to agree on a specific location.
Cr Strelow said the timeline to build had to be forgotten in order to get the facility right.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said discussions to find alternative sites had commenced.