WHITE STONE COUNSELLING PROGRAM

Joint Media Release with the Member for Blaxland, Jason Clare, and the Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Stephen Jones.

Member for Watson, Tony Burke, Member for Blaxland, Jason Clare, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Stephen Jones, and Member for Parramatta, Julie Owens, today announced a Shorten Labor Government will invest extra funding to expand the services offered by not-for-profit counselling organisation White Stone.

Labor's commitment amounts to $800,000 to improve the therapeutic spaces used by White Stone throughout Western Sydney and boost the counselling services offered.

The announcement recognises the importance of addiction recovery services, as community concerns about substance abuse, particularly the drug ice, continue to grow.

White Stone was established in 2011 and currently operates out of Harris Park. It is an initiative of the Maronite Eparchy with the support of St Charbel’s Church Punchbowl.

Mr Burke said he was proud to support this local health service.

“The work done by White Stone is important for the wider community and should be available wherever and whenever this kind of assistance is required,” Mr Burke said.

“I hope this funding will be the first step in achieving White Stone’s vision of a self-sufficient counselling program adapted to break through cultural barriers and ensure widespread access to life-changing treatment.

“Our local area has long been a home for multiculturalism, and it’s important all health services meet both the cultural and care needs of the communities involved.”

Mr Clare said this announcement was important for the wider area.

“White Stone does important work in our local community. This extra funding will mean they can do more good work to help people addicted to dangerous drugs," Mr Clare said.

Mr Jones said localised funding for addiction recovery services was important for individuals, their families and the wider community.

“Labor will always put people first in our approach to dealing with illicit drug use,” Mr Jones said.

“This particular project already has a positive impact on the lives of many people in the local area. When someone puts their hand up and says they want to turn their life around we need to make sure they can get into treatment right away.

“The funding will also assist White Stone in developing and offering preventative educational programs for other vulnerable groups in the wider community.

“The Liberals have axed funds dedicated to helping treatment services, but Labor is investing in services like White Stone because we understand how important they are for communities across Australia.”

Ms Owens emphasised the fantastic work White Stone does for the local community.

“While White Stone’s focus is Sydney-wide, I am so glad it is based in Harris Park and does so much for this community,” Ms Owens said.

“Their work in dealing with addiction helps not just the individual’s health, but strengthens families, lowers hospitalisation and crime rates, and improves people’s lives. Their positive impact on the community shouldn’t be understated, and certainly isn’t by me.”

Labor candidate for Reid, Angelo Tsirekas, welcomed the announcement.

“There is no doubt that addiction can strike at any part of our community. Making sure that good programs to assist addicts are available, accessible and well-funded, is an effective way of dealing with the problem,” Mr Tsirekas said.

Labor candidate for Banks, Chris Gambian, also praised White Stone’s work.

“Substance abuse affects more than just individuals and efforts that support families as well as communities help us all,” Mr Gambian said.