New measures to combat ice use

New measures announced to combat the rise in methamphetamine ‘ice’ use across Victoria have been welcomed locally by a key service provider.

Data shows ice use has escalated in communities, quadrupling ambulance attendances over recent years where it was the “main drug of concern” and contributing to a rise in ice-related deaths, according to the State Government.

In recent weeks a $1.1 million “ice package” has been announced by State Mental Health Minister Woolridge.

The package will research and present a ‘snapshot’ of the drug’s impact, based on geography and demographics and target education campaigns initially at apprentices, post-secondary students and Aboriginal communities.

A “tailored diversion program for first-time offenders using ice” will also be implemented – a move welcomed by Latrobe Community Health Service manager drug treatment services Ann Hamden.

Ms Hamden told The Express while more recent figures showed the number of ice-using clients presenting at LCHS had plateaued, the numbers were still high given data from a year ago showed that figure had doubled between 2010/11 and 2011/12.

She said LCHS already participated in a ‘diversion program’ but “we would be curious to hear about a more tailored program specifically for ice users”.

Some of the government’s broader initiatives had evolved in response to crime data linked to ice use and would be delivered by service providers such as Anex – which LCHS had drawn on for training support, Ms Hamden said.

She said she expected the measures would “help in terms of increased knowledge around ice, and cycles that occur, and the blending of ice with other drugs such as alcohol, which can cause aggression”.

LCHS, however, continued to maintain short turnaround times for its referrals, aided by a new phone screening tool developed by alcohol and drug centre Turning Point, Ms Hamden said.

People were accessing support at different stages of usage, she said.

“Sometimes they come to us when their life is falling apart and they are at risk of, or are, homeless but sometimes they just realise it is an issue and they might be well supported by someone,” Ms Hamden said.

Where LCHS had experienced a more recent rise in demand was in parents seeking support as they dealt with the challenges of their child’s ice problem, Ms Hamden said.

“Probably 70 per cent of those ringing in now are family and parents where ice is the main usage of their loved one,” she added.

While drug reforms being implemented should soon see a central bed register set up for detox beds across the state, Ms Hamden said a pressing local need existed for a residential rehab facility.

Meanwhile Australian Drug Foundation chief executive John Rogerson, in a letter to The Express, said the State Government’s announcement of a Parliamentary Inquiry into methamphetamine was a “welcome move” in addressing the “trauma” being inflicted by ice and the “heartbreaking stories” associated with its use.

Families seeking information about ice can find it at or phone LCHS on 1800 242 696.