The Northern Rivers is ‘leading the state’ in the number of drug offences committed, according to Lismore Cr Eddie Lloyd.
And she says it’s time for the Lismore community to ‘take its head out of the sand’ on the issue.
According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the NSW state average for drug offences is 754.5 per 100,000 people, but the Lismore local government area’s average is over three times that at 2,183.70 per 100,000 people.
And the statistics for drug and alcohol-related crime in almost every other category is well above the state average, Cr Lloyd said.
YIMBY not NIMBY
She added that ‘lackling the twin problems of substance abuse in the Northern Rivers will require a “YIMBY”, or “yes in my backyard’ approach.
‘The statistics don’t lie,’ Cr Lloyd said.
‘We can’t continue to ignore the reality of this situation. Sticking our heads in the sand isn’t working, we need to recognise that substance abuse is prevalent in our community, and we need to open our minds to potential solutions.
‘That means looking at the issue through a health prism and saying yes to things like more residential rehabilitation centres – where the waiting lists are currently between three and five months – or yes to proven successful initiatives such as a Drug Court and a Koori Court.’
Cr Lloyd will tomorrow night present a motion to Lismore Council to establish a Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee, made up of a panel of local experts from across agencies of health, social and justice.
The committee would be tasked with ‘examining the causes of high levels of drug-related crime in the Lismore area, and working with all levels of government find potential solutions’.
Cr Lloyd said these could include a drug court, additional residential drug rehabilitation facilities, a youth and adult Koori court and so-called Justice Reinvestment Initiatives.
‘In my professional life as a defence lawyer I see the human, social and financial impact of substance abuse on our community every day,’ Cr Lloyd said.
‘The cost to the government and tax-payer of drug-related crime does not just come as a huge economic cost to the government and taxpayer but also comes at a social cost to our families and communities.
‘If we all agree that community safety is the priority then effective, adequate treatment services must be provided to meet the very high need in our region,’ Cr Lloyd said.