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National ice taskforce inundated

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The man tasked with arresting Australia’s ice epidemic says he has no immediate answer to what is an increasingly grave and complicated problem.

The National Ice Taskforce has heard numerous “desperately sad” stories during eight weeks of consultations across Australia that ended in Melbourne on Friday.

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Taskforce head Ken Lay says the epidemic is complex and families are desperate for help.

“There’s this thirst from the community to find a silver bullet, to find a simple answer that will solve this problem,” he said.

“But there is no silver bullet.”

The taskforce has received more than 1300 submissions since it began, 90 per cent of them from individuals.

Mr Lay said the level of violence they detailed was sometimes frightening.

He said there were still quite a number of ice users in the community functioning at a normal level but the longer or more frequently they used the drug, the more likely they would become a risk to their families.

“I think some family members get quite frightened and they need advice and support on how to work around these issues,” Mr Lay said.

The former Victoria Police commissioner says it’s unfortunate efforts to seize ice before it hits the street have not led to a decrease in abuse.

A Melbourne online and telephone counselling service, Turning Point, says the number of calls it has received about ice in the past year has been at least equal to alcohol-related calls.

The taskforce will hand an interim report to Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in July.

A national ice strategy is not expected until the end of the year.


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