ICE: Acting Senior Sergeant Craig McConnel speaks at the Community Ice Forum in Bowen.
ICE: Acting Senior Sergeant Craig McConnel speaks at the Community Ice Forum in Bowen.

Slippery slope to ice

DAWSON MP George Christensen's community forums in Mackay and Bowen last week drew more than 70 people who shared their concerns about the region's growing ice (methylamphetamine) epidemic.

Speaking in Parliament this week, Mr Christensen said the forums heard first hand accounts of the personal impact the drug has had on families.

"It was heartbreaking to listen to parents say they would prefer to see their children go to jail where they can get some help because they can not force them into rehab," he said.

"It is clear early intervention is required to prevent that first taking of the drug because it is so addictive and so destructive.

"It was also clear that when a victim does reach out for help, that help must be available immediately."

Mr Christensen said it was discussed at the Mackay forum that drug use and abuse came about because of a lack of self worth, lack of self respect and the glamorisation of drugs through television and movies.

"(It's) the old saying, everyone longs to belong," Mr Christensen said.

"If we focus on that at an early age in schools, equipping families with the right resources... then perhaps we can get ahead of the game."

The over-arching message was the need for a well-resourced, holistic approach to reduce demand, choke off supply and educate the community, Mr Christensen said.

"With that feedback in mind, I will be pushing for better resourcing for police investigations and more rehab and detox facilities in North Queensland," he said.

"Feedback from our North Queensland forums has been submitted to the National Ice Taskforce, which will be reporting to the Prime Minister in coming weeks and we look forward to the forthcoming National Ice Action Strategy that will result."

The community forums included representatives from the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health, human services, Drug Arm, schools, councils, church leaders, indigenous groups like Girudala, youth groups like Kalyan and the Youth Information Referral Service, and service organisations like Ozcare, Uniting Care, Anglicare, and CentreCare.

Since 2010, the number of people receiving treatment for meth/amphetamine issues has more than doubled.

In 2010 it was 13,000 and in 2013 it was 29,000.

More than 200,000 Australians used meth/amphetamine in the last 12 months and more than one in 14 Australians have tried ice.

Of detected illicit drug imports to Australia, ice has grown from five per cent in 2011 to 59 per cent in 2014.

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