Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative has been joined by Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre and other concerned community members to develop a whole-of-community Ice Action Plan for the Goulburn Valley.
Those attending include: local Member of Parilament, Wendy Lovell; leaders from the Departments of Education, Justice & Regulation, Health & Human Services, and Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources; senior staff of the City of Greater Shepparton; Regional and local Police Command; and representatives of a number of agencies such as Ambulance Victoria, Goulburn Valley Health, Primary Care Connect, RAJAC, Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership, Goulburn Valley CLC and Rumbalara.
The two meetings have been extremely productive and seven proposed actions have been drafted, which range from community education and harm minimisation programs to a medically supervised detoxification centre working in conjunction with the proposed new rehabilitation service.
Local MP Wendy Lovell has been obtaining information about the Geelong Ice Action experience and has had discussions with Senior Sergeant Tony Francis who heads up the Geelong ‘Our Towns Ice Fight’ initiative for Victoria Police.
Wendy reported that: “The Community of Geelong has stood together as one to fight Ice in that community through early intervention and education for young people, community awareness, and importantly a focus on keeping young people engaged with education. The Geelong initiative works around the principal that the Ice problem cannot be solved by any one genius alone. The Police, Government and health services have been unable to solve it individually, but it quickly became apparent to community leaders that when a number of passionate people come together to do a range of positive things a big shift can occur. Senior Sergeant Francis has agreed to share Geelong’s program and learnings from their experience with our committee in October.”
Goulburn Valley CLC’s Managing Lawyer, Kaz Gurney, recently had a one-hour meeting with Attorney-General Martin Pakula, facilitated by another local MP, Suzanna Sheed. During the conversation, which ranged over a number of issues, the need for proactive reforms including a major justice reinvestment in Shepparton was heavily canvassed.
Kaz said: “Without looking at and dealing with at least some of the disadvantage and vulnerability affecting parts of our community, we will always be reacting to the symptoms such as substance abuse and poor mental health, which lead people into the justice system and at far greater cost to the rest of us and our families. We remain hopeful that Government will respond positively and address long-standing funding inequities that have seriously diminished opportunities in our region.”