Funds not enough to fight ice
Drug rehabilitation experts have welcomed millions in funding for the ice problem in the Pilbara, but say it’s still not enough.
The Federal Government this month announced $20 million towards meth rehabilitation services nationally, including the Durack electorate, as part of the National Ice Taskforce.
The specific amount of funding for the Pilbara is yet to be announced, despite the program scheduled to start next month.
Pilbara police have previously reported intravenous use of meth by children as young as 11 in the area and even just last weekend members of the public were posting on Facebook about a container full of needles found in a public area in Baynton West.
Pilbara district police Superintendent Paul Coombes said he welcomed any extra funding to reduce meth use in the region.
“It is about breaking the cycle of the drug use and resultant crime to supply the use that will reduce demand upon police and many other services and overall benefit the community,” he said.
However, whether the funding goes to new or just existing services is still being decided, and with few rehabilitation services in the Pilbara questions remain about how much extra funding will do to counter the scourge of ice locally.
The only existing Pilbara drug and alcohol help services are the Yaandina Sober Up Shelter in Roebourne, the Yaandina Turner River Rehabilitation Centre near Hedland, the Bloodwood Tree’s Wapa Maya Centre in Hedland, and Mission Australia’s Pilbara Community Alcohol and Other Drug Service, also in Hedland.
The 22-bed Turner River facility is the only residential and therapeutic rehabilitation centre in the region while the short-stay Yaandina shelter is the only one in the City of Karratha area rather than Port or South Hedland.
Yaandina Family Centre chief executive Nick Furnell said meth addiction was one of the major problems dealt with at Turner River and “there was a definitely a serious problem with meth” in the Pilbara.
Labor Member for Mining and Pastoral Region Stephen Dawson said the problem locally was bigger than the amount of funding likely to be allocated to it.
“Meth use is rampant right across the Pilbara and is the biggest social scourge to have faced the region in a long time,” he said.
“While any extra funding is welcomed the reality is the Pilbara will get very little of WA’s total $20 million funding pool.
“We simply don’t have enough rehab services in the Pilbara and quite often when people do decide to seek help the assistance is not available and they’re placed on a waiting list.
“The few Pilbara NGOs currently providing rehab services already struggle to keep up with existing demand so a massive funding injection is required if Government is serious about stopping meth use.”
Minister for Regional Development and Rural Health Fiona Nash said the funding was especially aimed at regional WA which was particularly hard-hit by meth use.