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Renewed efforts to tackle petrol sniffing in communities surrounding Katherine, in the Northern Territory (NT), will rely not on police powers, but on reconnecting sniffers with their culture and country.
NT Indigenous corporation, Sunrise Health Service (SHS), is set to launch a new round of its mentoring program for tackling volatile substance use.
Manager of social and emotional wellbeing at SHS, Geoff Lohmeyer, leads the program with 21 years of experience in the field, and status in the local Indigenous community. Mr Lohmeyer says the program can make the difference between a sniffer and a non-sniffer. He also believes deeper issues need to be addressed in order to stamp out petrol sniffing.
'I think it's a matter of, the young people who intend to sniff are broken inside, there's a disconnect to culture,' he said. 'They're broken from country, their families are dysfunctional and they're disconnected from their dreaming and they're empty.
'While they're empty they don't have the skills to be able to build their own fun and do things and get out themselves.'
The Wugularr youth petrol sniffing prevention program leads groups of young people from communities on outings to provide an avenue to restore cultural identity. Young people will also learn basic skills such as cooking, and will spend time with Elders to receive teaching about the Dreaming for their country.
Source: ABC News (Darwin)
Sunrise Health Service
Level 1, 25 First Street
PO Box 1696
Katherine NT 0851
Ph: (08) 8971 1120
Fax: (08) 8971 2511