Ice: Cold facts about drug use in WA

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Meth Crisis - The Inquiry - By GIO­VANNI TORRE

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.

Pic­tures by Gio­vanni Torre.

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.

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