CAYLUS has operated Since November 2002 it is a division of Tangentyere Council and takes direction from a steering committee made made up representatives of the following agencies and communities:
- Pintubi Homelands Health Service
- Papunya Commuity
- Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi
- Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
- Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (Mt Theo Program)
- Tangentyere Council
- Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council
- Mt Liebig Community
- The Drug and Alcohol Services Association
- Alice Springs Youth Accommodation and Support Services
The CAYLUS Service area spans communities across the bottom half of the Northern Territory. CAYLUS only works in communities at the request of local people and agencies, over the 10 years that we have operated we have gradually extended our services to new sites. While CAYLUS primarily services this region we have occasionally provided provided assistance to communities further away, including Balgo, Kiwirrkurra and Jigalong in WA and Katherine in the NT.
CAYLUS supported initiatives have included developing rehabilitation services, youth programs, a responsible retail of solvents program, night patrols, policing initiatives, football carnivals and video and radio projects in local languages. Whilst many supply-reduction measures specifically targeted inhalants, the demand-reduction measures such as development of community-based recreation and youth programs have had a myriad of other health, substance misuse prevention and community safety outcomes.
For an in depth look at the CAYLUS model and approach check out Gillian Shaws paper The Provision of Support and Advocacy for Indigenous Young People on a Regional Basis
CAYLUS commenced operation during a period when petrol sniffing was an enormous issue across much of Central Australia. At this time availability of reliable youth programs in our service region was also limited. CAYLUS staff initially promoted use of aviation gas as an alternative fuel that was less intoxicating if sniffed, along with developing youth programs and promoting the use of the Misuse of Drugs Act (NT) to prevent deliberate dealing and supply of fuel and other substances to sniff.
CAYLUS staff worked closely with families to facilitate access to rehabilitation programs and worked with these services to varying degrees to help develop their programs and services. This approach built a more systematic response to sniffing and helped reduce the damage that was being done, it didn't however greatly reduce prevalence of sniffing in many communities as standard unleaded was still readily available.
As CAYLUS has supported remote communities efforts to make high-risk substances harder to access for sniffing, we have also needed to work with retailers in the regional centre Alice Springs to ensure that such products are well managed there also. The CAYLUS Volatile Substances Supply Reduction worker works supporting retailers in Alice Springs to manage products well, as a part of this work we developed a range of resources for retailers but importantly have been available and responsive to retailers needs including providing practical assistance where we can. Click here to view the 2009 evaluation of this ongoing work. More recently we have been supporting the development of similar projects in other locations as a part of this work a guide to volatile substances supply reduction work has been developed.
In 2004/05 CAYLUS staff worked with other stakeholders to advocate to the NT government for a range of measures including better data collection, better policing around petrol sniffing and better rehabilitation options. This resulted in the introduction of the NT Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act 2005 and a complementary investment in support programs by the NT government. One of the most useful outcomes of this legislation has been that it gives communities the ability to make laws around the management of volatile substances. Some communities used these powers to make possession of standard unleaded petrol illegal altogether within their bounds, thereby making petrol dealing far more difficult.
With the advent of Opal/ Low Aromatic Fuel in 2005, it became feasible for the first time to implement a non-intoxicating fuel across the region. CAYLUS staff worked with communities promoting and supporting the use of the fuel. As a part of the Opal Alliance we also advocated for a change in Commonwealth government policy, first to allow roadhouses to use the fuel and eventually to a region wide rollout in Central Australia. For a full account of this process see CAYLUS and the Opal Alliance - by Blair McFarland.
The regional roll out of Opal has been a major success, the 2009 Evaluation of the Impact of Opal Fuel found that across all sites there has been a 70% reduction in prevalence of petrol sniffing and that in Central Australia this has been in excess of 90%. It has been very gratifying to be able to see the change on the ground in communities as a result. See the video from Papunya below to hear an account from that community. Our advocacy work in this area continues though, as a small number of retail outlets refuse to stock the fuel despite the likely benefit to nearby communities. CAYLUS staff continue to work toward rolling youth programs out to all communities in order to engage youth who were previously sniffing in positive activities and programs. There is currently no Government commitment that ensures such services are available to remote NT Youth, though with initiatives such as the FaHCSIA Youth in Communities Measure the situation has improved. For further information on the case of Youth Services see the 2011 CAYLUS discussion paper Youth Development In Central Australia Beyond 2012.