Case Study – Mareeba Therapeutic Community Centre, Cairns, FNQ
Effective and culturally appropriate drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation.
Mareeba Therapeutic Community provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with access to an effective and culturally appropriate drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation service.
As trustee for the Indigenous Economic Development Trust (IEDT), IBA has helped re-establish the Mareeba Therapeutic Community with the Queensland Drug and Alcohol Council (QDAC).
The property on which the Mareeba Therapeutic Community is located previously hosted an Indigenous alcohol and rehabilitation centre run by the Aborigines and Islanders Alcohol Relief Services (AIARS), which closed in 2009.
Late in 2011, the property was transferred to the IEDT by the department of Health and Ageing’s Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH). QDAC entered into a lease with the IEDT to provide residential rehabilitation services (as a contracted service provider to OATSIH).
Opened in May 2012, the Mareeba Therapeutic Community provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Cairns and surrounding areas with access to an effective and culturally appropriate drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation service. Previously, they would have to leave their home communities to travel interstate to access services.
‘Community members will typically be at the centre for six to nine months,’ says Dallas Hure, Operations Manager of the centre, who describes it as one big community.
‘I believe the centre offers a unique service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples because of its therapeutic model.
‘Our community members will work through their addiction through a number of culturally appropriate programs aimed at healing and working on their inner spirit.’
During their time at Mareeba Therapeutic Community, participants learn about addiction and coping strategies and contribute to the community by taking part in farming, kitchen work, hospitality, maintenance and arts and crafts activities. They can obtain experience and qualifications that will assist them when they graduate from the rehabilitation program.
The property has 14 hectares of agricultural land that QDAC plans to incorporate into its program of training and accreditation in agriculture. Community members will have the opportunity to produce self-sustaining foods for the kitchen, and grow traditional native produce and sell these at local markets.
The organisation also provides employment opportunities for the local community; 75 per cent of staff members are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
Dallas looks forward to the growth of the Mareeba Therapeutic Community and hopes to eventually host up to 20 community members. IBA has been working closely with the centre to reach this goal. ‘IBA has been great to work with, the staff members have been really supportive – we have an excellent working relationship.’