Slip­pery slope to ice

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

DAW­SON MP Ge­orge Christensen’s com­mu­nity fo­rums in Mackay and Bowen last week drew more than 70 peo­ple who shared their con­cerns about the re­gion’s grow­ing ice (methy­lam­phetamine) epi­demic.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment this week, Mr Christensen said the fo­rums heard first hand ac­counts of the per­sonal im­pact the drug has had on fam­i­lies.

“It was heart­break­ing to lis­ten to par­ents say they would pre­fer to see their chil­dren go to jail where they can get some help be­cause they can not force them into re­hab,” he said.

“It is clear early in­ter­ven­tion is re­quired to pre­vent that first tak­ing of the drug be­cause it is so ad­dic­tive and so de­struc­tive.

“It was also clear that when a vic­tim does reach out for help, that help must be avail­able im­me­di­ately.”

Mr Christensen said it was dis­cussed at the Mackay fo­rum that drug use and abuse came about be­cause of a lack of self worth, lack of self re­spect and the glam­or­i­sa­tion of drugs through tele­vi­sion and movies.

“(It’s) the old say­ing, ev­ery­one longs to be­long,” Mr Christensen said.

“If we fo­cus on that at an early age in schools, equip­ping fam­i­lies with the right re- sources... then per­haps we can get ahead of the game.”

The over-arch­ing mes­sage was the need for a well-re­sourced, holis­tic ap­proach to re­duce de­mand, choke off sup­ply and ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity, Mr Christensen said.

“With that feed­back in mind, I will be push­ing for bet­ter re­sourc­ing for po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions and more re­hab and detox fa­cil­i­ties in North Queens­land,” he said.

“Feed­back from our North Queens­land fo­rums has been sub­mit­ted to the Na­tional Ice Task­force, which will be re­port­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter in com­ing weeks and we look for­ward to the forth­com­ing Na­tional Ice Ac­tion Strat­egy that will re­sult.”

The com­mu­nity fo­rums in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice, Queens­land Health, hu­man ser­vices, Drug Arm, schools, coun­cils, church lead­ers, in­dige­nous groups like Giru­dala, youth groups like Kalyan and the Youth In­for­ma­tion Re­fer­ral Ser­vice, and ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tions like Oz­care, Unit­ing Care, Angli­care, and Cen­tre­Care.

Since 2010, the num­ber of peo­ple re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for meth/am­phet­a­mine is­sues has more than dou­bled.

In 2010 it was 13,000 and in 2013 it was 29,000.

More than 200,000 Aus­tralians used meth/am­phet­a­mine in the last 12 months and more than one in 14 Aus­tralians have tried ice.

Of de­tected il­licit drug im­ports to Aus­tralia, ice has grown from five per cent in 2011 to 59 per cent in 2014.

ICE: Act­ing Se­nior Sergeant Craig McCon­nel speaks at the Com­mu­nity Ice Fo­rum in Bowen.

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