Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion might have only checked in to Moree on Sunday evening, but it didn’t take long for him to enjoy a dip in the therapeutic hot pools. Though, his visit to town wasn’t all relaxation and pleasure, as he visited Aboriginal service providers the following Monday.
Federal Member for the Electorate of Parkes Mark Coulton led Mr Scullion on the whistle-stop tour and took a pit-stop at Maayu Mali Rehabilitation Centre.
“Maayu Mali receives funding from Nigel, so he is here to make sure everything is running smoothly,” Maayu Mali manager Chris Binge said. “He was majorly happy with what he saw and it sounds like he will be leaving Moree with a feather in his cap.”
According to Mr Binge, the rehab centre receives $1.5 million each year for its successful running and maintenance. The fund comes as a three year package, with the centre now on the last leg of the contract.
Mr Scullion said the facility was a crucial asset to a large region like Moree.
“Tragically, people get disconnected and have a hard time so they turn to self-medication. That’s a problem that is experienced everywhere, which is unfortunate.”
The rehabilitation centre was formerly known as the Roy Thorne House, however operational and financial management issues forced its closure. It was reopened at the end of 2015 and renamed Maayu Mali, an Indigenous term for “make better”.
“Mark Coulton was the person who came to me and said the centre needed to be reopened. The new centre seems to be doing much better than the old one. This is what Australian tax payers pay for: people to get their life back on track.”
Mr Scullion was pleased to see the number of programs that were in place at the centre, which aimed to re-engage the clients to the community.
“These programs engage clients and build their connectivity to education and employment,” he said
Mr Scullion also visited Pius X, Dhiiyaan Aborignal Centre, Thiyama-li Family Violence Service Inc, Miyay Birray and Clontarf Academy.
“Moree is a great place. Twenty-six per cent of the population is Aboriginal and the community makes a wonderful contribution to the town,” he said.
Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries said she was always pleased with Mr Scullion’s visits.
“He is a nuts and bolts man: he doesn’t spend time talking about what he’s going to do, he does it.”
Mr Scullion left Moree with his entourage later on Monday evening.