Ru­ral ice scourge shocker

Pilbara News - - News - Sue Yeap

He is one of Aus­tralia’s most ex­pe­ri­enced jour­nal­ists but even vet­eran news­man Ray Martin was shocked by how wide­spread ice use has be­come in re­gional Aus­tralia.

“I un­der­stood it was a se­ri­ous prob­lem, I have done a cou­ple of sto­ries about ice in the city but I hadn’t been bush to look at it and I must say the most shock­ing thing to find was just how wide­spread it is,” Martin said. “I thought I knew about it, and I guess peo­ple in the bush think they know about it as well, but sud­denly when you see the stark re­al­ity of the is­sue, you re­alise it is a dev­as­tat­ing, deadly drug that isn’t go­ing to stop with­out peo­ple do­ing some­thing about it.”

The five-time Gold Lo­gie award win­ner has joined GWN7 news to present the pub­lic af­fairs spe­cial Ice: The Scourge of Re­gional Aus­tralia, air­ing on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 5 at 7.30pm.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port on ad­dic­tion pub­lished this month by Flin­ders Uni­ver­sity’s Na­tional Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, ice use has in­creased 150 per cent in re­gional Aus­tralia since 2007 com­pared to 16 per cent in metropoli­tan cen­tres.

Martin and the doc­u­men­tary crew met po­lice, doc­tors, emer­gency work­ers and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion staff from around Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing some in WA, to in­ves­ti­gate why ice ad­dic­tion is more preva­lent in re­gional Aus­tralia and what is be­ing done to as­sist th­ese com­mu­ni­ties.

“It be­came a sub-theme of our doc­u­men­tary that all th­ese beau­ti­ful places peo­ple go to seek par­adise also have this ugly, to-hell-and-back drug,” Martin said.

“It’s rel­a­tively cheap, it’s ac­ces­si­ble, easy to get.

“We were stag­gered when they told us in all th­ese coun­try towns they can get it in 10 min­utes.”

Martin was also shocked by ice be­ing so preva­lent in re­gional high schools. “There’s no rhythm or rea­son, it is ab­so­lutely er­ratic in terms of one school will have 80 per cent use (we were told by kids who should know), and an­other school has no us­age,” he said. “We spoke to kids in a cou­ple of coun­try towns who are 15, 16, 17 who have been on ice since they were 12.”

Martin met par­ents who had lost chil­dren to ice-in­duced de­pres­sion and sui­cide and oth­ers deal­ing with ice-re­lated do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. In some towns, he said older res­i­dents were afraid to go out after dark for fear of be­ing robbed by knife-wield­ing ice ad­dicts. But he said there was hope. “If we were just go­ing to tell the dev­as­tat­ing story of ice — it sort of has been told even though it needs to be told again — there needs to be some sort of light at the end of the tun­nel,” he said. “What we found from the fan­tas­tic po­lice (fea­tured) in this and hos­pi­tals in this was that it’s not go­ing to go away, it’s get­ting worse.

“We need good com­mu­ni­ties around Aus­tralia and there needs to be so­cial and com­mu­nity ac­tion.

“Po­lice say the ac­tion has got to go be­yond them. It’s got to be sport­ing clubs, schools, churches and fam­ily groups alerted to the prob­lem. And it needs to be headed off as pre­ven­ta­tive medicine rather than af­ter­wards.”

Ray Martin film­ing Ice: The Scourge of Re­gional Aus­tralia

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