Interview on ABC Kimberley with Vanessa Mills

Transcript of the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt's interview on ABC Kimberley with Vanessa Mills.

Page last updated: 04 September 2017

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4 September 2017

Vanessa Mills: The Federal Government has announced a $1 million initiative to help rehabilitated drug addicts and alcoholics re-enter the community. The post-residential program helps recovering addicts to return to the community with tailored programs and follow up care. It’s expected to help more than 200 people a year and will be based out of Broome’s Milliya Rumurra and Wyndham’s Ngnowar Aerwah. The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, told Ben Collins the initiative should help prevent relapses.


Ken Wyatt: The thing that excites me about this program is the support it provides to people recovering from mental illnesses and the impact of alcohol and substance abuse; is it provides continuing care and considers an individual returning from a rehabilitation program back into their home or back into their community. And what we want is people to be sustained at the level they achieved coming out of rehabilitation and we don’t want them coming back in.

Reporter: And why has this been announced now?

Ken Wyatt: Well, it’s part of the National Ice Action Strategy, and it was facilitated by the West Australian Primary Health Alliance and the WA Country Primary Health Network. They would’ve called for submissions, and the organisations, like Milliya Rumurra and the Wyndham Aboriginal Corporation, would’ve made a joint submission or made submissions and ultimately a decision was made to fund them.

Reporter: How many people are you expecting will need this service in the Kimberley?

Ken Wyatt: I think it’ll vary. Certainly, the impact of some other measures that are going into place is making a difference – I think of the work that June Oscar did in the Fitzroy; I think of the impact of the BasicsCard that enables people to focus on providing the fundamental needs for the family and not on alcohol. So those are interventions which will see the numbers vary, but up to 200 people a year will be affected.

Reporter: And how does it cater to Indigenous patients?

Ken Wyatt: Well, I think the thing that will be important is family and cultural connections, and then making sure that people have got access to the services that are needed, but ultimately for the community-controlled health sector within the Kimberley to be a point of care for primary health care and then providing the levels of intervention. So it’s really about monitoring the individuals, giving them the support, and then intervening when it’s necessary to give them the strength and resilience not to relapse.

Reporter: You’ve announced a $1 million contract, but that only lasts, from what I can see, for 10 months. You’ve talked about the importance of this program; why not have it as an ongoing program? Why only 10 months?

Ken Wyatt: Initially what you want to see is the impact of the program, the effectiveness of the organisation, certainly monitoring what we’re doing. And it’s like a number of initiatives that are often funded at the front end with a view to looking at long-term solutions, and effective organisations will hit the ground running, deliver the types of support and interventions that are needed, and then consideration is given to the future of the program. It also, in some instances, funding might only be available for 12 months, but where that happens then there is often an expectation that there will be a flow on effect from all the program and in providing a level of support that’s important.

Reporter: Is that a risk here, that this program’s going to end before it is able to achieve the goals that you hope it will achieve?

Ken Wyatt: No, I think we will see a continuation, partly for two reasons. One is Minister Hunt, who has been committed to doing work in this area, has a long-term view in achieving outcomes that will be sustainable. And certainly the front end is often about implementation, but what I’d be looking for in this is consolidation of what’s going into place, how we sustain it – and I’m talking about the community sustaining it – and whether the reach of their services is as effective as the strategy proposes. And often with Aboriginal programs they’re funded out of a program that is only established for short-term gains, but in this instance the Commonwealth Government is certainly forward-looking in how do we deal with the national ice scourge that we’ve got, but equally then addressing the mental health and alcohol and substance abuse programs.

[End of excerpt]

Vanessa Mills: That’s Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Health, speaking to Ben Collins about a new million dollar post-residential rehabilitation program, helping recovering addicts return to the community with tailored programs through Milliya Rumurra in Broome and Wyndham’s Ngnowar Aerwah.


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