Country towns vulnerable to drugs
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.