Drug reform pleas from local NSW health and legal services continue after ice inquiry

In a small music studio on the south coast of New South Wales, young people in a residential rehab drug program are writing new songs.

Participants begin with the chorus.

Then comes the rap.

Men are given the opportunity to process their emotions in music workshops.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

Music therapy is part of a 16-week program at Nowra at Oolong House and can support approximately 100 men per year.

70% enter with ice poisoning.

Hayden John Blowes is about two weeks away from graduating.

Four days before the 34-year-old married father of four was arrested in April, he overdosed on ice and heroin.

A man wearing a T-shirt standing in a room
Hayden Blowes hopes her time at Oolong House will provide a foundation for her recovery.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

“I was arrested for a string of petty crimes, shoplifting, breaking into a business, stealing a car, and doing whatever I could to keep up the habit,” Brows said.

He said he was seeing “a significant amount of time in prison” for the second time and had to do something for his family.

“I contacted Oolong House and was fortunate enough to meet the criteria and get another chance.”

He said music “helped us realize that we weren’t necessarily bad people.”

Blowes hopes that state governments and communities will understand the need for more rehabilitation and support for drug users.

“I’ve seen so many boys in prison. They’re either going really bad or they can take the opportunities that I have.” He said.

“There are people calling every day to go into rehab…that could change everything.”

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Among them was expanding access to community and indigenous rehabilitation services. 109 Recommendations from the New South Wales Drug Ice Task Force.

Woolong House CEO Steve Adler said he struggled to understand why, more than two years later, the state government had not responded to 104 recommendations and agreed to none.

Man standing on stairs looking up at studio behind him
Steve Adler says clients face more problems than just drug addiction.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

During his 12 years at the center, he became increasingly aware of the dual health problem in men.

“It’s not just an addiction, it’s an underlying mental health issue that leads to them for the rest of their lives,” said a Uin Nation Wodi Wody man.

Oolong House is one of six Aboriginal Housing Rehabilitation Services in the state. Drug reform pleas from local NSW health and legal services continue after ice inquiry

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