The Federal Government’s National Ice Taskforce has begun its community consultations in Mount Gambier in South Australia’s south-east.
The taskforce, to tackle the growing scourge of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, was announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in April.
At the time of the launch Mr Abbott labelled the drug “pernicious and evil”.
Taskforce member Sally McCarthy said on Thursday that the consultation heard from representatives from the health, law enforcement and community service sectors.
“We know that ice use is a growing concern across Australia and is hurting our communities,” Dr McCarthy said.
“We want to look at what is being done now. We want to hear the success stories to try to duplicate how communities are dealing with ice in other parts of the country.”
Ice is known to be highly addictive and cause erratic and violent behaviour, which has led to an increase in hospital admissions.
Experts from Mount Gambier Hospital and local support services have joined police and taskforce representatives to hear the drug’s impacts on the city, and how it is being dealt with.
It follows a community forum in the nearby town of Millicent, which attracted hundreds of people.
Ice addict Guy Kelly was among the crowd at the Millicent forum.
Mr Kelly, 20, said it took him a month to go from recreational ice use to being completely addicted.
“I was spending anywhere upwards of a grand and a half a week,” Mr Kelly said.
“It all just fell apart, I lost my family. I lost everything I had, job, yeah anything that I had that was worth something was gone.”
Aside from impacts of the drug, the National Ice Taskforce will also be looking at treatment options, something Mr Kelly welcomed.
He has been in rehabilitation now for four months.
“It’s a great feeling to be off it, it just sets you free,” he said.
Meanwhile, a leading figure in drug and alcohol awareness told The New Daily in April that convicted drug addicts should be directed into treatment and recovery, instead of being piled into jails.
Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association executive officer Sam Biondo said that the taskforce must channel funding into recovery and treatment – rather than sending drug users and dealers to prison and racking up “huge costs”.
The taskforce will also visit Darwin, Newcastle and Mildura.
– with AAP/ABC