In rural and regional communities, people repeatedly tell me the drug ice is causing serious damage. The statistics say the numbers of ice users has doubled since 2010.
I’ve taken a personal interest in this topic for quite some time, and now, as Minister responsible for drugs policy, the issue of ice is a key priority.
Last year I directed the Australian National Advisory Council on Drugs (ANACAD) to make ice its number one issue.
In March at the UN Conference on Narcotics in Vienna, I had member countries agree to share research and cooperate on this issue.
At countless police stations I’m told the same thing: “We can’t police our way out of this”. We must reduce demand for ice; so we also need education and treatment services to get people off ice.
I’ve visited treatment facilities, and I’ve seen that ice cuts down those with money and those without (who often then turn to crime); mums and dads as well as youth – people from all walks of life.
Every community I visit seems to have a tragic ice story – recently I heard about a brother and sister suiciding after becoming hooked on ice.
The recent Australian Crime Commission report confirmed organised crime gangs are targeting rural and regional Australia.
The Prime Minister, myself and the Minister for Justice have announced a taskforce to report to government on the ice situation – what’s working and what’s not – and produce an interim report by mid-year.
This will help us build a National Ice Action Strategy.
Members of the community: have your say. Government can’t solve this on its own – this problem reaches deep into the community and we need community help to tackle it.
Submissions to the taskforce can be made at http://www.dpmc.gov.au/taskforces/national-ice-taskforce
Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health.