Rural ice scourge shocker
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