Ice rehab site prompts federal inquiry and community forum
A COMMUNITY forum, a federal enquiry and assurances that patients in Rockhampton's live-in drug rehabilitation facility will all be voluntary are not enough to calm Parkhurst residents who are still frightened by the prospect of having the centre built adjacent to their suburb.
About a dozen residents gathered again this morning at the invitation of Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Senator Matt Canavan who backed the residents with a motion at last weekend's LNP state convention.
The motion asked the State Government to reconsider the facility's location and the LNP is launching a petition for a federal enquiry.
"It should not be out here in the middle of a growth area. It's not a suitable site,” Ms Landry said.
"There was no public consultation. They looked at 40-50 other sites and we want to know where they are.
"Senator Matt Canavan or myself will present the petition in the Senate or House of Representatives that we think it is in the wrong position and that the State Government needs to look at it.”
Ms Landry proposed having the facility built on Rockhampton-Yeppoon Rd, which Senator Canavan agreed with.
"The Queensland Government dropped the ball on this one and (Health Minister) Steven Miles needs to restart the whole process,” he said.
"You do not need a degree in public service governance to know that a rehab centre in the middle of a suburb is a bad idea.”
State MPs Barry O'Rourke and Brittany Lauga were not at this morning's gathering but in a statement, Mrs Lauga encouraged residents to attend a community forum on Thursday night at CQUniversity, where they can ask questions, raise any concerns and receive accurate information from Queensland Health.
Mrs Lauga has been talking "constantly” with residents and said many of their concerns were unfounded.
"I believe there have been unwarranted concerns raised, which are based on rumour and misinformation,” she said.
"The forum will be an opportunity for people in the community to hear about the proposal, to ask questions of Queensland Health and for residents and nearby land owners to raise concerns.
"A number of people have contacted me with respectable, alternative sites which I've forwarded onto Queensland Health because the Health Minister and the Department of Health said they are open to other considerations.
"I too am frustrated and angry about the consultation process to date, but Queensland Health has assured Barry O'Rourke and I that they have plans to undertake consultation with residents and that (the location) is not a sure thing... it is not concrete at all.”
The current proposal is to build the facility on a 14.5ha block in bushland on Birkbeck Dve, adjacent to the growth suburbs of Edenbrook and Riverside
Mrs Lauga said although it would be difficult to come to a conclusion that pleases everyone and "ticks all the boxes”, the facility was important for providing treatment to those struggling with addiction.
Parkhurst resident Noeleen Horan spoke through tears on behalf of her community on Monday morning.
"We are standing together. We are concerned for our families' welfare and our safety,” she said.
Riverview Estate resident and mother, Jessica Matheson, said some residents hadn't slept since the announcement.
"Their anxiety is through the roof. People are gravely concerned for the safety of their kids.
"We feel there has to be a better site,” she said.
"I'm disgraced and alarmed that the government is portraying it as being far from residents when you can literally see the houses and peoples' backyards across the road.
"We should feel comfortable in our own homes and surrounded by people and environments that make us feel comfortable and I don't feel that will be the case.”
Mrs Matheson expressed concern for an increase in crime as well as the proximity from emergency services and said she would
be prepared to implement security measures such as electric fencing, and preventing her children from using the roadside bus stop.
"People are just normalising it and it's not normal. I don't want to have that discussion with my kids about ice,” she said.
"I'm not burying my head in the sand. I will have the discussion with them, but they're kids, that's what this whole estate is filled with, and I don't want to take (their innocence) away from them.”
Fellow resident Grant Goltz said he was awake at 4.30am on Monday morning, thinking about the location and considering installing electric fencing.
For Mr Goltz, a rehab facility "just 14 seconds from his home” would affect his life in more ways than one, "including an increase in insurance”.
"My wife said 'there goes my walking track', my secretary is against it and her daughter does cross country but won't be doing that around here any more,” he said.
"It's about children's safety. We're not disputing that we should have one, we should help them out, but all it's doing (putting it here) is opening another can of worms.
His suggestion was to put the facility near the Capricorn Correctional Centre as there would be readily available security, a dog squad, shuttle transport and 24/7 lighting.
- Forum about the proposed rehab and detox facility.
- Hosted by the Department of Health. Barry O'Rourke and Brittany Lauga will be in attendance to talk with the community.
- When: July 18 at 7pm
- Where: CQUniversity