Labor’s alcohol and illicit drugs policy spokesperson Stephen Jones, Richmond MP Justine Elliot and Labor’s candidate for Page Janelle Saffin today announced that a Shorten Labor Government will ensure funding to upgrade “The Buttery” rehabilitation service in Binna Burra.


Stephen Jones joined Justine Elliot and candidate Janelle Saffin at The Buttery this morning to announce Labor’s $2 million funding commitment.

“Labor understands that frontline health workers and the people they are treating need more help and support,” Mr Jones said.

“Labor will always put people first in our approach to dealing with illicit drug use.

“Law enforcement efforts will only succeed if greater emphasis is placed on prevention strategies. That is why The Buttery’s outreach service is so valuable. It has a positive impact on the lives of many people in the local area.

 “When someone puts their hand up and says that they want to turn their life around we need to make sure that they can get into treatment right away.

“Sadly, this just isn’t an option for many people in the Northern Rivers region. Existing services are doing their best with one armed tied behind their back - they are over-stretched and waiting lists are getting longer and longer.

“This investment by Labor will be a game-changer for people who want to get help.”

Justine Elliot noted that the funding commitment will make a real difference for local families.

“Labor’s commitment will prove a huge boost for the service, which runs residential addiction treatment and outreach programs in the region,” Ms Elliot said.

“It will prove a real lifeline to a service under the pump to meet growing demand.

Janelle Saffin said that increased funding for treatment services and prevention strategies will help communities fight drug addiction, including ice.

“Illicit drug use, including ice, is having a devastating impact on communities in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales,” Ms Saffin said.

“Frontline workers at The Buttery are doing incredible work, but they need all the help they can get and Labor is there for them.”

The Buttery has a waiting list extending to as long as six months as more and more people across the electorates of Richmond and neighbouring Page seek help to overcome drug addiction.

Communities in the Northern Rivers region have felt abandoned by the Turnbull Government who have promised the world on combating the “scourge of ice” but delivered little, particularly in regional Australia.

  • Almost $1 billion has been has been cut from the Health Flexible Funds, which includes funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
  • For two years in a row the Liberals, supported by the Nationals, have only offered a temporary, one-year funding extension for services relying on the NGO Treatment Grants.

These short-sighted funding decisions by the Turnbull Government have created enormous uncertainty and administrative distraction in the delivery of essential regional health services.