NACCHO NEWS:Labor coughs up $1m to combat petrol sniffing

Labor coughs up $1m to combat petrol sniffing

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 THE Gillard government has responded to concerns over petrol sniffing in remote Aboriginal communities by spending nearly $1 million on new diversionary programs and youth workers in high-risk areas.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon yesterday told The Weekend Australian the money would go towards programs targeting petrol sniffers and those abusing other substances in areas such as Katherine in the Northern Territory, the Kimberley in Western Australia, and Cape York in Queensland.

In Katherine, the site of a relatively large outbreak of petrol sniffing earlier this year, $123,200 has been allocated for the local Aboriginal health service to employ a “volatile-substance supply reduction worker” to lobby retailers to reduce access to sniffable petrol, paints and deodorants.

Mr Snowdon also increased pressure on the Western Australian, South Australian and Queensland governments for a faster response to calls for Northern Territory-style laws that would allow them to ban sniffable fuel in Aboriginal communities.

So far, the South Australian, Queensland and Northern Territory governments have expressed interest in considering a national approach to the problem.

The federal government’s response to petrol sniffing comes after The Australian revealed this week concerns about a re-emergence of the problem in remote Aboriginal communities.

The Gillard government has been under pressure to enact legislation to allow it to force retailers to sell non-sniffable Opal fuel, following reports that several who have refused to stock it had been a source for petrol sniffers from nearby communities.

Julia Gillard acknowledged the issue on Wednesday during a nationally televised news conference with premiers after the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra.

“We think petrol sniffing is a big problem and incredibly destructive problem,” the Prime Minister said. “Opal fuel does make a difference.”


One comment on “NACCHO NEWS:Labor coughs up $1m to combat petrol sniffing

  1. Press Release supplied Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon

    The Australian Government is committed to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia curb petrol sniffing through its Petrol Sniffing Strategy.
    Refer NACCHO’s recent response to

    Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said that over the next four years more than $97 million has been allocated to the Australian Government’s Petrol Sniffing Strategy, which aims to reduce the incidence and impact of petrol sniffing and drug and alcohol misuse among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities.

    “Petrol sniffing and substance misuse has a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities,” Mr Snowdon said.

    “The impact of petrol sniffing goes much wider than its immediate effects on the health and wellbeing of individuals. Vandalism, theft and domestic violence are all part of the economic and social impact it causes to communities.

    “It’s critical we support communities who want to tackle petrol sniffing and other substance misuse issues, as well as help them to improve community life and provide a healthier and safer environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

    “I have recently written to health ministers in WA, QLD, SA and the NT to seek their views on the Commonwealth mandating Opal fuel. I have also raised the value of state and territory based petrol sniffing legislation within their own jurisdictions.”

    “I am eager to hear back from my state colleagues,” Mr Snowdon said.

    Minister Snowdon has also suggested the Commonwealth will look at hosting a cross-jurisdictional forum to discuss a consistent legislative approach to petrol sniffing.

    The rollout of low aromatic Opal fuel is an important element of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy and has proven to be very successful in reducing petrol sniffing and the serious social and economic consequences it can have.

    “In towns where Opal fuel has replaced regular unleaded, research has found a reduction in petrol sniffing of up to 94 per cent, as well as an associated reduction in crime. In one Northern Territory community, break-ins, vandalism, car thefts and sniffing-related injuries fell significantly following the introduction of Opal,” he said.

    The Australian Government committed an additional $38.5 million over four years commencing in 2010‑11 to tackle petrol sniffing, which includes the expansion of Opal fuel to at least 39 new retail sites across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.

    The funding will support construction of new bulk storage facilities for low aromatic fuel in Darwin and northern Queensland to ensure supply to the Gulf region of Queensland, the East Kimberley in Western Australia and the Top End over the next two financial years.

    In addition, more than $750,000 has been committed in 2012-13 under the Petrol Sniffing Strategy for treatment and diversion activities:

    $129,400 to the Queensland Government Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs to employ two local people as youth workers to run youth diversion programs for young people affected by substance misuse in the Cherbourg community
    $128,000 to the Mt Isa Integrated Youth Diversionary program to deliver night school classes, youth leadership, health and physical education and cultural activities for young people who misuse volatile substances
    $119,600 to Youth Empowered Towards Independence for delivering intensive support services for people effected by substance misuse in the Cairns region
    $45,000 for the Pormpur Paanth Aboriginal Corporation, in Pormpuraaw, to deliver the Red Dust Healing Program
    $10,500 to the Mabuiag Island Youth Camp to provide meaningful activities and volatile substance awareness and education for young people on the island
    $35,000 to Skill Hire to deliver a mobile multimedia youth diversion program across the East Kimberley region
    $130,000 to build a youth recreation shed in the Pipalyatjara community on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands used to deliver prevention, early intervention and diversionary activities for young people
    $123,200 for the Katherine Regional Aboriginal Health and Related Services to employ a volatile substance supply reduction worker to work with retailers in the Katherine region to reduce access to volatile substances
    $35,596 to the Tiwi Islands Shire Council for a school holiday program to provide young people in the region with positive activities over the school holidays
    “Having healthy and positive activities available to keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engaged and away from petrol sniffing is critical, particularly in remote communities,” Mr Snowdon said.

    “This funding will help build stronger and safer communities, as part of the Government’s efforts to close the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage.”

    Media Contact: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820 / 0417 917 796

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