Ice: Cold facts about drug use in WA
THE Commonwealth Parliament inquiry into crystal methamphetamine heard from many people working in the fight against meth addiction last week.
Cowan MHR Anne Aly joined South Australia Senator Skye Kakoschke-moore and Hughes MHRNSW Liberal Craig Kelly on the joint committee on law enforcement hearing in Perth.
The latest reliable data shows West Australians are using meth at almost double the national rate.
WA Primary Health Alliance chief executive Learne Durrington spoke of the broader problem of substance abuse being linked to crime, rather than just ice, and the combination of factors that led to higher rates of drug abuse.
“There are many issues - poverty is key but there are other issues that coalesce - it’s general health, meaningful activity and employment, housing,” she said.
“We see this as a health issue and it has inter-generational impacts, the parents, the kids, the next generation.”
Asked about compulsory rehabilitation, Ms Durrington stressed a user’s desire to quit was paramount.
“When people accept they have a problem and want to change the efficacy of treatment is much higher.”
Ms Durrington said the Alliance had about $6.7 million per year to distribute to services across the state.
“All of the funds go into services apart from 5 per cent which we hold to do workforce development and to get a better understanding as to what needs there are that have not been accounted for.”
She said extra care must be taken to ensure people with a mental health issue and an addiction did not “fall through the gaps”.
Ms Durrington said the Alliance was mandated by the Federal Government to fund treatment but that targeted prevention was critical.
“There is a need for targeted prevention where you have populations at risk rather than the whole population,” she said. She said there was a need to help people immediately after they leave an urgent crisis situation.
“When the person is in an emergency department or in custody they are discharged… we are talking about establishing a pathway to treatment. Many people would leave that situation without any connecting to a service at the time,” she said.
WA Network of Alcohol chief executive Jill Rundle said the increase in the strength of ice was creating a more severe impact.
“The purity results in the increased likelihood of people getting into trouble… and the community being impacted by meth use,” she said.
Ms Rundle said only a third of the services in WA were funded… “we are way behind”.
“Without adequate treatment services, people are waiting - they are not accessing services. There are not enough services to meet demand,” she said, adding there was “not nearly enough” funding for prevention or harm reduction services.
Ms Rundle stressed the importance of educating the community to deter meth use.
She said that while WA had 11 per cent of the country’s population, and almost double the rate of meth use, the state received only 9 per cent of the available Federal funding.
Main picture: MPS Craig Kelly and Dr Anne Aly in Perth for the Commonwealth Parliament inquiry into crystal methamphetamine. Below: Chief executive of the WA Primary Health Alliance Learne Durrington addresses the inquiry.