Northern Territory: Gapuwiyak VSA Plan A Regional Health Milestone


Health Minister Kon Vatskalis has praised the adoption of the Gapuwiyak Volatile Substance Abuse Management Plan, developed through extensive consultations between communities and stakeholders in the East Arnhem area.


“It is vital to reduce the harm caused by the misuse of volatile substances in our remote communities, and I am delighted to see Gapuwiyak joining the other East Arnhem communities that have been pro-active in developing these plans,” Mr Vatskalis said.


“The Territory’s VSA legislation enables communities to develop their own regulations governing the supply, disposal, storage and use of volatile substances, which once enacted are enforceable by NT Police.


“VSA restrictions now cover about 75% of the region, with Numbulwar, Ramingining, Gapuwiyak and Yirrkala each having developed a VSA Plan. Galiwin’ku is currently consulting towards the development of their plan.


“The development of the plans has helped reduce volatile substance abuse in these areas.”


Mr Vatskalis praised the efforts of the Mala Leaders who worked closely with key stakeholders during the past year to develop the plan which came into effect on 1 July 2011.


They included East Arnhem Shire, Laynhapuy Homelands, Department of Health’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Program, Gapuwiyak Health Clinic, Gapuwiyak CEC and Gapuwiyak residents.


“To their great credit, the community decided on a proactive approach to volatile substance misuse before the problem became entrenched,” Mr Vatskalis said.


“The Mala Leaders chose a regional and coordinated approach by ensuring their management area linked with the Ramingining and Numbulwar areas.”


The Gapuwiyak VSA Management Plan means that all residents, stakeholders, contractors and visitors must comply with the rule regarding the possession, use, storage and disposal of volatile substances.


It is now illegal to possess sniffable unleaded petrol, with Opal low aromatic fuel being the norm.


All contractors, residents and stakeholders must take reasonable care in the use, securing and disposal of volatile substances, and these new rules are enforceable by NT Police.


This approach, along with other interventions and treatment options, has resulted in a significant reduction in episodes of individuals in other communities engaging in volatile substance abuse.


Copies of the management plan can be viewed at the East Arnhem Shire office at Gapuwiyak.


Source: Minister for Health


Map location of Gapuwiyak, Northern Territory

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