Coun­try towns vul­ner­a­ble to drugs

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - RURAL INSIGHT - Rose Brennan

MAY­ORS from ru­ral Queens­land say their towns are bat­tling the scourge of ice on a level they have not seen be­fore.

A new study found ice was used most by em­ployed men in ru­ral Aus­tralia, with bikie drug ped­dlers tar­get­ing work­places in “vul­ner­a­ble” towns.

Use of crys­tal metham­phetamine in ru­ral Aus­tralia has jumped by 150 per cent since 2007 but in­creased by just 16 per cent in cities.

Di­rec­tor of Flin­ders Univer­sity’s Na­tional Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing on Ad­dic­tion Pro­fes­sor Ann Roche said her re­search was the first to prove ru­ral ar­eas were in the grip of an ice epi­demic worse than the cities.

She found the use of crys­tal metham­phetamine was higher in ru­ral ar­eas among em­ployed peo­ple than un­em­ployed while in cities the op­po­site was true.

Tablelands Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor Joe Paronella said he had seen a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the use of ice in his com­mu­nity in far north Queens­land over the past decade.

“We’ve seen a mas­sive in­crease in the peo­ple com­ing for­ward there and try­ing to rec­tify it,” he said. “It is a prob­lem that is not go­ing away and we have to find a way to man­age it and to con­vince the youth to stay away from it.”

Pa­roo Mayor Lind­say God­frey said his coun­cil, based in Cun­na­mulla in south­west Queens­land, was “very proac­tive” in deal­ing with ice.

It launched Project Hope last year, tar­get­ing school stu­dents and aim­ing to con­vince them to steer clear of the drug.

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