The Buttery – a not-for-profit, charitable rehab organisation located near Bangalow – will run the Young People’s Alcohol and other Drugs Early Intervention Program until June 2019, across Grafton, Maclean and Yamba. Page MP Kevin Hogan last Friday July 28 announced that the Australian Government has provided $225,000 from its National Ice Action Strategy to fund the program. North Coast Primary Health Network’s (NCPHN) Mental Health Reform director, Dr Megan Lawrance, said the new free program for young people aged 12 to 24 filled an identified gap in health services. “The funding was made available because of a need to give young people living outside of major centres better access to appropriate alcohol and other drug counselling, and to referral services that will make a difference to their lives,” Dr Lawrance said. Mr Hogan congratulated the Buttery and the NCPHN “for developing this new program”. “Ice not only hurts the user, it tears families apart and puts our frontline emergency workers like nurses and police in physical danger,” he said. Manager of the Buttery’s outreach program, Christian Gruft, said the new service will operate out of the Grafton CHESS Employment office in Prince Street and work in partnership with existing services, local high schools and employment, housing and primary health care providers. “We want to establish a relationship with young people without fear of talking to us,” he said. “We will never preach to them: if they find they are having a problem, or they are in trouble and need to do something about it, we will counsel and work with them [using] case management models to … find out what they are interested in and help them to achieve their goals.” Mr Gruff said that working with other community services would smooth the way to get the specific help needed. “Some young people have issues with their families, relationships or mental health issues,” he said. “If we cannot help them [directly] we will link them with other services. “We have headspace [opening in September] and we will be working closely together. “If they need more than low level intervention, they can be referred to rehab; if needs be we will buy a bus ticket to get them there if they can’t afford that, or drive them – there is a rehab in Coffs Harbour.” Mr Gruff said the service can also refer to other free government-run rehab centres [in Sydney for example], “but we prefer to refer to local resources, so they can stay in touch with their families”. The Buttery’s CEO, John Mundy, said the program would ensure evidence-based support and treatment for at risk young people. “It includes responsible and personalised treatment plans and focuses on supporting increased resilience to the things in their lives contributing to their alcohol and drug use,” he said. “It also offers a single point of contact for families and carers to find support and information. “Importantly, the program is delivered using non-judgemental and culturally aware framework which promotes inclusion.” The intervention program will also provide support, consultancy and training for youth workers in the social services sector.