Bill Byrne is pushing for support.
Bill Byrne is pushing for support.

Rocky MP calls for rehab centre to curb crime

BILL Byrne recognises that vagrant behaviour in Rockhampton's CBD is caused by a "tapestry of problems", but he's hoping a new rehabilitation centre will curb anti-social behaviour.

The Rockhampton MP wants to establish one modelled on a proven operation in Mt Isa.

After recently visiting Mt Isa, he was full of praise for the Topsy Harry Centre which offers a range of services for indigenous people, including detoxes.

Mr Byrne wants a Rockhampton centre to be funded by the Department of Communities and will make it an election issue.

"The problems in Mt Isa are reflected across many regional communities where the emphasis is on indigenous clients, but that's not exclusive by any stretch of the imagination," he said.

"If you listen to the stories from people on the ground in Rockhampton, there is a need for it. I think it would make a major difference.

"Too often people say it's a matter of policing, but that's a short-term response to a long-term problem."

The first step towards implementing such a facility and service would be to get government support, and he is lobbying government to create a policy to establish such a centre.

"I've given a couple of speeches in parliament about vagrant behaviour in Rockhampton," he said. "It's connected to homelessness and connected to the youth offender issue."

To avoid the controversy that plagued Milbi Farm, a community consultation process would have to be initiated once the government gave its support to the plan.

This consultation would cover possible locations, structures and funding models.

Mr Byrne spoke to the Topsy Harry site manager about the list of services provided.

"We're not going to take long-term alcoholics and turn them into model citizens," he said.

"(But the centre) allows them to live a life in a fashion where harm to themselves and the broader community is limited."

The Topsy Harry Centre caters for 50-60 clients and works towards harm minimisation in a controlled environment.

Need to know

The Topsy Harry Centre caters for 50-60 clients and works towards harm minimisation in a controlled environment.



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