NFPs to Contribute Ice Taskforce
Thursday, 9th April 2015 at 11:18 am
The Not for Profit sector is expected to play a key role in the Federal Government’s Taskforce set up to investigate the growing use of the prohibited drug Ice in Australia.
The Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his Government will be working with States and Territories and experts in the community to develop a National Ice Action Strategy, to tackle the growing scourge of Ice (crystal methamphetamine).
“Ice use is a growing problem right around our nation. Ice is ruining individuals, destroying families, and hurting communities,” Abbott said.
“The Australian Crime Commission considers Ice poses the highest risk of all illicit drugs to our community with ice use rates almost doubling in the last twelve months.”
The Prime Minister said the first step in developing a National Ice Action Strategy will be the establishment of a National Ice Taskforce.
“Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash and Minister for Justice Michael Keenan will oversee the Taskforce and lead the Government’s response to the Ice issue,” he said.
The Taskforce will be led by Ken Lay APM who was Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police from 2011 until very recently.
The overall purpose of the Taskforce will be to examine all existing efforts to address Ice and identify ways to take a systematic, comprehensive and coordinated approach to education, health and law enforcement.
“Because the Ice scourge affects the whole community, the Taskforce will consult widely to ensure that all aspects of this menace are being addressed,” the PM said.
“Governments at all levels are taking steps to address Ice but these efforts need to be targeted, efficient and effective. While these initiatives are being rolled out at the local, state and territory level, there is a role for the Commonwealth Government to assist in coordinating and assessing their effectiveness in addressing the Ice epidemic.”
The Taskforce will provide an interim report to the Prime Minister by the middle of 2015.
The Prime Minister said he will take the report to the first subsequent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments “to ensure that the campaign against Ice is fought in a coordinated, targeted and effective way”.
The Salvation Army says it will be contributing to this taskforce and is willing to provide the Australian Government with any assistance necessary in the fight against Ice.
Gerard Byrne, Clinical Director of Recovery Services for The Salvation Army said the announcement is a positive development in the fight against the proliferation and availability of Ice and other amphetamine-like drugs in Australian communities.
“Every day we are seeing more people coming into our recovery services suffering the serious mental and physical health impacts of Ice. People need to know Ice is highly addictive and causes in many cases permanent psychiatric illnesses. Ice does not discriminate and it affects people from all walks of life,” he said.
Through the nineties society battled heroin, this battle now includes Ice and other amphetamine-like drugs.
“The Salvation Army is uniquely placed to contribute to this taskforce having assisted Australians suffering from addiction for over 100 years,” Byrne said.
“The Salvation Army is one of the few organisations which has treatment centres all around Australia. We have a national reach which is vital in this fight against Ice and amphetamine-like drugs.”
Major Brendan Nottle, who works for The Salvation Army in Melbourne’s CBD, said the emergence of Ice on the streets was a major concern.
“The degree of violence that accompanies the use of Ice is extreme,” Major Nottle said.
“This drug is not only destroying the lives of those who become addicted to it, it is also impacting their families and society at large. This is a massive community issue and unless we work together, the impacts will be far reaching.”
Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten said the scourge of Ice on families and the community could not be underestimated.
“The statistics are incredibly alarming – families are being ripped apart and people are suffering severe mental health problems as a result of using Ice,” he said.
“I will work with the Prime Minister to help tackle the menace of Ice.
“This crisis requires a national approach and it must involve law enforcement agencies, working alongside health, education and mental health experts.”