MORE than a year after the closure of Lyons House, the three levels of government in Cairns will today show they are committed to re-establishing vital infrastructure that will help people with addictions to get off the streets.
Standing in front of the now-defunct residential rehabilitation centre, Federal MP Warren Entsch, Member for Cairns Gavin King, Member for Barron River Michael Trout and Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning will outline their priorities for reopening support services for people suffering drug and alcohol dependence.
The issue was a hot topic at this week’s Crime and Community Forum, which was hosted by Mr Entsch and Shadow Justice Minister Michael Keenan and attended by Mr Manning and deputy mayor Terry James.
“What came out of the forum was that there is clearly a lack of social infrastructure to support people with a drug or alcohol addiction and to help get them off the streets” Mr Entsch said.
“Former residents of these establishments, such as Lyons House and Douglas House, are now living rough because they have nowhere else to go. They have even come into my office to personally plead with me to get these services reopened.”
L-R: Cairns Mayor Bob Manning, Federal MP Warren Entsch, Member for Barron River Michael Trout, and Member for Cairns Gavin King present their case to media.
Cr Manning agreed, saying that while there are some facilities available to offer overnight accommodation, the reality was that Cairns needed more beds to be brought on-line.
“This is a complex issue that will not be resolved by opening one more facility but we need to take the first step to get these people off the street,” he said. “After all, how we care for people is the measure of our community.
“I recognise and applaud the very important work a number of organisations and agencies are already providing, but I believe we need appropriately funded programs that will enable individual case management.
“This is the only way we can break the cycle and assist these people to come back into mainstream society and achieve some normality in their lives.”
Mr Entsch said the issues relating to the closure of Lyons House were exclusively related to the management committee, and bore no reflection on the actual clinical treatment carried out.
“There were a number of committed and hard-working staff there who did an outstanding job, and I think it is critical that we look at retaining some of their expertise,” he said.
Member for Cairns Gavin King added that he had passed on information about the closure of Lyons House to the office of Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
“We need to find out what went wrong with Lyons House – and where the money went – so we can move forward on this issue and work with all levels of government to provide better alcohol rehabilitation services in Cairns,” Mr King said.“I am committed to work with the Mayor and Federal Member to ensure we address long-standing issues with alcohol abuse in Cairns and Far North Queensland.”
Lyons House sits empty while people in need of rehabilitation services remain on the streets.