Nationals Member for Murray Valley, Tim McCurdy, recently briefed his federal colleagues on the devastating impact the methamphetamine drug, ice, is having on regional Victorian communities.
Mr McCurdy is a member of the Victorian Government’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention committee which held an inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines, particularly ice, in regional areas and recently released its report.
He briefed federal Coalition parliamentarians from across Australia on the findings and recommendations in Canberra at the invitation of Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie.
“Tim McCurdy’s presentation resonated with the federal MPs and senators at the briefing, who share the same experiences and concerns in their own local communities,” Senator McKenzie said.
“They heard what the Victorian Government is doing to tackle the issue, with an emphasis on not just the individuals, but also communities, sporting clubs, schools, health workers and police working together to fight this very concerning problem.”
Mr McCurdy told the meeting that while the impacts of ice are similar state-wide, small country towns are heavily affected.
“People from all backgrounds, particularly in their 20s, are trying ice and become addicted very easily, with devastating consequences,” he said.
The committee’s key recommendations include establishing a high level ministerial council to crackdown on methamphetamines; strengthening drug-related laws; developing community/sport action plans and school awareness campaigns; mandatory presentation of identification at pharmacies when purchasing drugs than can be used as precursors; require end-user declarations for pre-cursors; provide more detox and rehabilitation facilities and beds; and outlaw motorcycle gangs who deal in ice.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is to respond formally to the report but has already announced more than $8 million for a range of targeted measures for a public awareness campaign; waste water analysis to determine the prevalence of drugs in Victoria; community ice forums; for mental health units across the state to better manage ice-affected patients; for the Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) program targeting young people; and expanding the successful Good Sports program,” Mr McCurdy said.
“This is in addition our commitments made in the Reducing the Alcohol and Drug Toll – Victoria’s plan 2013-17 and the state budget. It includes $1 million for the Wodonga and Wangaratta hospitals to improve security and help staff cope with drug-affected patients.
“We cannot arrest our way out of this insidious drug, this will only be conquered by whole of community initiatives to work as one. This drug is being used by non-traditional drug using families who have not been exposed to drugs before and it is devastating families.”
Senator McKenzie said she has heard first-hand from communities which are struggling to deal with this dangerous drug.
“On top of that, the daily reports of more families and communities devastated from the impacts of ice, whether it involves a loved one or a drug-related crime,” she said.
“The federal government shares Victoria’s concerns and is also working towards reducing the use of methamphetamines and association impacts. Under the National Drug Strategy, through the Inter-Governmental Committee on Drugs, the federal government continues to work with state and territory governments with includes health and law enforcement officials in all jurisdictions to address illicit use of drugs.
“It includes our commitment to fast-track the establishment of the National Anti-Gangs Squad with strike teams in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, and liaison arrangements in all other jurisdictions. In less than a year we have witnessed unprecedented co-operation between Commonwealth and State law enforcement agencies and intelligence sharing that is making a significant difference, particularly in the war against the ice scourge.
“I am also pleased to report that federal government spending towards treatment services, research, and education and supporting peak organisations this year has reached over $200 million through the Substance Misuse Service Delivery Grants Fund and Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program.”