200-at-wonthaggi-drug-night-hear-chilling-ice-factsContinuing his efforts to raise the profile of the impact of Ice on the community, Gippsland’s most senior magistrate Clive Alsop was the first speaker at last week’s Ice forum in Wonthaggi.

A CHILLING personal testimony by a recovering Ice addict.
The bewilderment of a distraught mother who didn’t know where to turn when her son’s life started spiralling out of control.
The criminal disregard of methamphetamine ‘cooks’ who don’t give a toss what sort of toxic materials they put into their concoctions.
And the rise and rise in the impact of Ice on individuals, the lives of their families, the police, health professionals and the safety and security of the community in general…
It was all laid out for the 200 or so people who attended the ‘Ice Advice – Information, Communication and Education’ night, facilitated by Wonthaggi Police and Bass Coast Community Health in Wonthaggi last Wednesday night, March 12.
But the fact is, if you’ve got teenage kids or are interested in learning more about the drug Ice, you should have been there.
The information passed on was both compelling and practical and prompted a resident of another local town to ask if such an event could be held in their area as well.
“When that woman was talking about what happened to her son and how she felt, I thought “spot on”. It’s exactly how I felt,” said one of the audience members later, whose son is battling Ice addiction.
“From my work I knew something about where to go for help but a lot of people don’t know what to do when it happens to them.
“Like she said, you’ve got to use the drug self-help groups like Sharc, the call centres and health professionals to find out what’s available.”
One of the facilitators of last week’s event, Bass Coast Community Health (ph: 5671 3500), has offered to be your first port of call.
Not only do they have their own drug and alcohol services but they also have the full list of self-help groups and health organisations which are best equipped to help those suffering from Ice addiction, and also their families.
Bass Coast Community Health is open during office hours but you can get started 24 hours, seven days-a-week by phoning DirectLine on 1800 888 236, a confidential, alcohol and drug counselling and referral line where you can talk to professional counsellors who are experienced in alcohol and drug-related matters.
DirectLine is a free, anonymous and confidential service.

Big crowd

There was a wide cross-section of people at the event in the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club, who donated the venue and subsidised the supper, including parents with their teenagers; teachers; health professionals including ambulance paramedics, mental health staff, drug counsellors and doctors; police members including Bass Coast Inspector Graeme Sprague, politicians, local business people, Guide and Scout leaders and more.
They first heard from Gippsland’s most senior magistrate Clive Alsop who has played a leadership role statewide in raising the profile of the ‘Ice epidemic’.
The night started with Wonthaggi Sergeant Michael O’Brien thanking all agencies for their support.
He said the problem with Ice was national and affected the Bass Coast area the same as anywhere else.
Senior Magistrate Clive Alsop said, in his lengthy experience on the bench and as a coroner, he’d never seen anything like the impact of the drug Ice.
“Is it still increasing? My word it is,” he said providing some death statistics.
“This is in epidemic proportions.”
Two police officers from the state’s clandestine laboratory squad, Det S/C Peter Clarke and D/Sgt Campbell McNair provided details about the dangerous, toxic practice of “cooking” up drugs including Ice and how to recognise a lab operating in your neighbourhood.
“Covered windows; peculiar smells in your neighbourhood like nail polish remover, strong ammonia, petrol smells; chemical bottles; exhaust fans, water hoses running inside; evidence of a fire or an explosion etc.
“If you see, hear or smell something suspicious call your local police or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 if you’d like to stay anonymous.
Representatives of the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (Sharc), Ryan Peace and Anne Iversen, facilitated the most compelling session when recovering Ice addict ‘Jimmy’ spoke of his struggles and the mother of a drug addict also spoke.

Leongatha next?

Following on from the Ice information night in Wonthaggi last week, several people have contacted the Sentinel-Times to say they would like to see a similar event run in Leongatha.
The Wonthaggi event was organised by the Wonthaggi Police and Bass Coast Community Health so the challenge for running a similar event in Leongatha might be in the court of the Leongatha Police and Gippsland Southern Health Service.
Call Bass Coast Community Health 5671 3500 during office hours, the Sharc helpline on 1300 660 068 or Directline 1800 888 236 (24/7) if you need help with the impact of drug addiction.