Friday, June 17, 2005

New Community Group launched

Fight against drugs

The Gibraltar Government has announced the launch of a new community forum to contribute in the ‘fight’ against drugs misuse in society.

The new organisation called the Drug Reference Group, seeks to promote active collaboration between official bodies and voluntary agencies, and help assess the scale of local drug use.

Joe Caruana who has extensive experience as a drugs counsellor is one of the leading members of the new group.

A Gibraltar Government spokesman said:

“As part of the development of the Government Drug Strategy, the Ministry for Social Affairs has announced the official launch of the Drug Reference Group.

The Group has a broad membership with particular emphasis on involving drug service users, ex-drug addicts and younger members of the community, in addition to different bodies and associations represented in the community.

The creation of this forum meets one of the key objectives and important elements of the Strategy, which advocates and actively seeks collaboration across a range of Agencies and voluntary organisations.

The objective of the Drug Reference Group is to support the Strategy Coordinator in the following functions: to help assess the nature and scale of local drug use; provide a forum to exchange information about good practice and new initiatives; to involve the community in action to make progress in the fight against drugs.

The Drug Reference Group complements the role of the Special Taskforce which consists of representatives from the Department of Social Affairs, the Department of Education, the Gibraltar Health Authority, the Royal Gibraltar Police and Customs. It also works in parallel with the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs."

The members of the Drug Reference Group are:

Joe Caruana – Founder member of the Drugs Advisory Service. Has wide experience in the treatment of addiction.

Marisa Viñales – Founder member of Families Anonymous. Works with families of drug users.

Douglas Borg – Who has participated in drugs awareness presentations.

Naomi Hassan – A Justice of the Peace and member of the Prison Board. Is also a qualified therapist who has conducted voluntary work within prison.

Manolo Peralta – A Mental Welfare Officer of over twenty years standing with experience in dealing with the medical consequences of addiction.

Dr Andy Gupta – A General Practitioner with particular expertise in dealing with drug addiction.

Rebecca Figueras – A Youth and Community Worker actively involved in various initiatives in connection with her role of working with young persons.

Daniel Aguis – A Senior Prison Officer in charge of the Drug Testing Unit at the Prison.

Desmond Bell – A Probation Officer and Practice Development Assessor with many years experience of probation and prison work abroad.

Paul Cosquieri – A Businessman with wide experience in publishing, advertising and marketing.

Albert Brugada – A Pharmacist working within the private sector.

Michelle Smallwood – Sports and Development Officer working with the Sport Authority in developing programmes for disenfranchised young persons.

Albert Danino and Michelle Barabich – Teachers representing Bayside and Westside Schools.

Matthew Payas and Navin Mayani - Students representing Bayside School.

Cathy Lopez and Julia Earle – Students representing Westside School.


The Minister for Social & Civic Affairs, Yvette del Agua, who is also Chairperson of the Drug Advisory Council said:

“Although the Strategy Coordinator has been working with members of this group for some time, the official launch and the presentation of its members to the public will serve to consolidate the work of the Group and provide a broad reference and referral point for members of the community who have concerns or information to share, or ideas to contribute”.

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