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2006 HREOC media release: Commissioner welcomes the announcement of petrol sniffing rehabilitation facility in SA

Commission Commission – General

Wednesday, 15 February 2006


Commissioner welcomes the announcement of petrol sniffing rehabilitation facility in SA  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, today congratulated the South Australian Government on announcing the construction of the nation's first rehabilitation clinic for petrol sniffers.

The $1.2 million project will involve residential facilities and counselling services for petrol sniffers in remote Aboriginal communities in the state's north.

"Petrol sniffing is a serious health threat not only to the individuals who are sniffing, but also their communities, so I enthusiastically support this development," said Mr Calma

"Petrol sniffing threatens the peace, order and security of many communities around Australia. It also affects their cultural and family structures, education, health and community development."

Commissioner Calma said the rehabilitation of sniffers is an important part of a broader effort to combat petrol sniffing. To that end, he also welcomed recent announcements by the federal Government about rolling out the availability of Opal fuel (which cannot be sniffed) in the central desert region of Australia. He was also pleased at the Tri-State Disability Strategic Framework agreed to between the Northern Territory, Western Australian and South Australian Governments in July 2005 for the provision of disability services to the people from the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara lands, that will further develop initiatives to address substance abuse on Indigenous communities in central Australia.

In September 2002, in his findings from the inquests into the deaths of three Anangu youths who were chronic petrol sniffers and lived on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands (AP Lands), the South Australian Coroner made a number of recommendations about combating petrol sniffing. One finding was that rehabilitation services be available to sniffers on the AP Lands. This call was repeated in the Social Justice Report 2003.

The Social Justice Report 2005, tabled in federal Parliament on Tuesday, recommends that Australian governments commit to a "right to health" based campaign to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality with the non-Indigenous population within 25 years. This includes an address to substance abuse in Indigenous communities.

The Social Justice Commissioner will launch the 2005 Social Justice Report and 2005 Native Title Report tomorrow (16 February) at 11.30am in Committee Room 1R5 (House of Reps side) at Federal Parliament House in Canberra.

For further details contact Paul Oliver (02) 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347.


updated 16 February 2006.