Ex-prisoner rehab plan takes root

Lincoln BertelliSouth Western Times

Released prisoners will be the focus of an 18-month trial for a “holistic” aftercare service that aims to reduce drug and alcohol abuse.

Breakaway Aboriginal Corporation will operate the program in partnership with other groups including Palmerston Association when it begins later this year.

The South West group, which formed last year, received more than $135,000 from Royalties for Regions South West Regional Grants Scheme to fund the trial and up to 50 released prisoners are expected to be involved.

Corporation chairwoman Louis Evans said the substance abuse rehabilitation program would help released and soon-to-be-released prisoners from Bunbury Regional Prison.

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The program will be open to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners and is likely to include four groups of between six and eight prisoners per year.

“It fills a real gap in the overall pathway to recovery,” Dr Evans said.

“There are organisations that offer services that might assist, such as AccordWest, but we’re looking at a holistic program that is based around the person.

“There is a need for this right across the State and we have heard a lot of anecdotal stories from people working in the community sector of people who want to come off drugs but don’t have enough support.”

Dr Evans said the group would hope to secure more funding with the aim of further expanding the service after the 18-month trial.

“We think this will offer hope to people who have already started to try and get over drugs and alcohol but are finding the path difficult,” she said.

“That has a roll on effect – if they can be successful they become peer support for others.

“We hope this is a seed that will get momentum.”

Breakaway’s long-term plans include offering the service to people who have already completed residential rehabilitation with Palmerston.

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