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Drug Arm van extends its reach

Bundaberg YMCA will seek to extend its partnership agreement with Drug Arm.
Bundaberg YMCA will seek to extend its partnership agreement with Drug Arm. Scottie Simmonds BUNDRU

THE Bundaberg YMCA will seek to extend its partnership agreement with Drug Arm beyond the original February deadline to give the street outreach service more opportunity to collect raw data from its visits.

The van was returned to Bundaberg in December after Brisbane-based Drug Arm agreed on a three-month contract, due to expire on February 28, or until such time where a similar service could get off the ground.

But YMCA chief executive officer Phill Sellwood said the steering committee would now apply for a two-month extension after a series of quiet patrols during the Christmas break failed to produce accurate figures.

"It didn't give us an accurate picture - we need more time to get a handle on what the needs are," he said.

Mr Sellwood said the committee was still reviewing the times the van went out, with current patrols on Friday and Saturday nights only operating from about 6.30pm to 10pm.

"We recognise the feedback from the community and stakeholders, and we really should be looking at a different range of nights," he said.

Mr Sellwood said if the past month had taught the community anything, it was that there was a need for the street outreach service.

"But we feel the services have outlived the Drug Arm model," he said.

The steering committee has a strong idea on what a similar service would look like, which is hoped to involve contact with schools on a whole range of youth issues.

"We're looking for the new service to have an element of training for youth on matters such as child protection, suicide awareness and binge drinking," he said.

Mr Sellwood said he was still in talks with relevant stakeholders, including Denise and Bruce Morcombe regarding child protection.

"We're looking to try and get the van recognised as a safe haven, as it currently is, but just under a different banner," he said.

"Our focus needs to be on helping these kids in an educational way and not just on the street."

Topics:  brisbane, bundaberg, drug arm, ymca



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