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Community Health Facility Factsheet

This is the text of the "Community Health Facility" leaflet produced by the RWPP to explain the NSW Govermnets decision to close the Needle Bus and place a new Community health facility in Lawson Street Redfern. The leaflet was dated November 2004 and a pdf file is not available. We have maintained the orginal colour scheme so you can recognise the leaflet if you saw the original.

New Facility will complement existing services

A new community health facility is to be established to serve all the people in the Redfern-Waterloo community.

The community health facility aims to provide a fundamental range of services for people who may not usually access mainstream health services. This facility will include provision of services such as health assessments, treatment and care of drug related injuries, provision of sterile injecting equipment, drug and alcohol assessments and referrals, welfare support, counselling and family support services.

A range of specialist visiting services will also be made accessible. This may include mental health and sexual health services, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis screening. Antenatal and post natal care will be provided in collaboration with stakeholders such as Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and local general practitioners.

The new facility will complement the existing services for Aboriginal people. Scheduled for completion by the middle of 2005, the community health facility will cost around $1.5 million with an annual commitment from the NSW Government of $550,000.

The NSW Government decided to introduce a community health facility in Redfern in response to repeated calls from the community to move the mobile needle and syringe service off the Block. The facility also responds to community requests to enhance

Issues Highlighted

Through the community consultation undertaken as part of the review of human services in the area, the Government received extensive feedback on health related issues in Redfern and Waterloo.

The review identified the following health needs in the area:

  • A high incidence of co-existing drug and alcohol and mental health issues in key population groups
  • A high number of older residents, including people from other cultural backgrounds
  • People with mental health conditions
  • Significant numbers of Aboriginal people with poor health outcomes
  • Young people with high unemployment levels, and drug and alcohol issues and young parents needing additional support.

The new community health facility will assist in responding to these needs. and will address some of the findings of the Interim Report on the Inquiry into Issues relating to Redfern-Waterloo. In that report. the Standing Committee on Social Issues found that "a range of strategies are required to address harmful drug use including abstinence-based approached. primary prevention, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation" (p.132).

Both the Committee and the Report on the Review of Human Services in Redfern and Waterloo noted the urgent need for detoxification and other drug and alcohol related services in the area. The community health facility will

No plans for a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

Redfern will not be the location of a medically supervised injecting centre and the new facility will not provide this service.

Medically Supervised Injecting Centres are legally sanctioned health and social welfare facilities that enable the hygienic injection of pre-obtained drugs under professional supervision.

Sixty Injecting Centres operating in countries around the world are considered worthwhile in managing the public health and public order issues related to illicit drug use, however it is not known whether they will work in Australia.

In order to determine the success of Injecting Centres in Australia, the Government has established a trial of a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in New South Wales. There is only one location for this trial and it is located in Kings Cross. The Centre opened for client services on 6 May 2001 and continues to be evaluated.

Mobile Needle and Syringe Program removal

The mobile needle and syringe program which operated at the Block in Redfern will be removed with the establishment of the community health facility.

In addition to providing broad health services, the facility will ensure that syringes and needles continue to be available to drug users as part of an ongoing public health measure to crack down on the spread of HIV and Hepatitis.

The community health facility will also provide opportunities for referral. collaborative case coordination, and continuity  of care for clients of the program. This will ensure improved health outcomes for the Redfern and Waterloo communities. Importantly, drug and alcohol users will have access through the facility to specialists and rehabilitation services.

The cleanup of the streets of Redfern and Waterloo to remove discarded needles is being undertaken regularly and effectively. Since December 2002, there has been an assertive clean up of used needles seven days a week in the area of The Block. The establishment of the community health facility and the removal of the Mobile Needle and Syringe Service will not affect this. The clean-up of needles will continue.

Easy access to health services

The new community health facility will be located on Lawson Street, Redfern.

The Government is currently negotiating the purchase of an appropriate property which will be refurbished to provide suitable health services. Lawson Street provides a central location that will ensure that the whole Redfern-Waterloo community will be able to easily access the services available. The entrance to the facility will be on Lawson Street. There will be no entrance on Caroline Lane.

Questions and Answers

Who is this service for?

The service will be provided for all the people in the Redfern-Waterloo area.

Will this new facility mean that funding will be moved away from non-government services?

No. It is intended to enhance the services in the area. not replace them.

Will the facility provide culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal people?

While the service will be for all people in Redfern-Waterloo, consultation with the community has highlighted the need to give increased attention to providing services to Aboriginal people. This includes providing stronger, more consistent linkages between all services and providing consistent appropriate and culturally sensitive services for Aboriginal people. The new facility will provide services that address these issues.

Why did the Government decide to strengthen the health system in Redfern-Waterloo?

As with any community, the population of Redfern-Waterloo needs access to a range of services and programs which encourage communities and individuals to manage their own health and wellbeing.

This new facility will provide a range of primary health care services that are easily accessible. It will assess the health problems of its clients and refer them, when necessary to other appropriate services.