Hopes for idyllic farm setting to aid rehab
Canberra could soon host a rehabilitation facility aimed at treating addicted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents by reconnecting them with their land and culture.
A development application for the multimillion-dollar Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm has been lodged with the ACT Planning and Land Authority, outlining plans for the eight-bed alcohol and other drug residential rehabilitation facility near Tharwa.
The ACT Health Directorate executive director of policy and government relations, Ross O'Donoghue, said the facility would be a step forward for Indigenous health services in the capital.
''Typically these services are modelled on more Western ideologies,'' he said.
''This is actually a slightly more serious attempt at using Aboriginal culture as a core element of the program.''
The ACT government purchased ''Miowera'', a working farm, after committing $5.8 million in capital funding to the facility's construction.
The Commonwealth also committed $1 million to the project.
Residents will be expected to contribute to the running of the property, which includes an orchard, animal pens and a firewood harvest area.
Mr O'Donoghue said the facility would aim to reconnect residents with their culture and the land while using the farm environment as a training ground.
''The model is not that uncommon around the country, but what's different about this one is it's very much focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,'' he said. ''People have been travelling considerable distances to attend these services.''
Plans lodged with ACTPLA outline the construction of several buildings, including two residential ''pods'' housing four bedrooms each, as well as a communal administration and training building.
Mr O'Donoghue said work on the project was scheduled to commence in October if the application was successful and there were no delays associated with election periods.
He said the facility - in a location chosen due to cultural requirements and its proximity to a hospital - wasn't expected to be operational until late 2013.