NACCHO NEWS: National Ice Taskforce present its interim report

Ice

There is so much of the drug ice in the town of Wellington, in central NSW, that it has earned the unenviable nickname of “The South Pole”.

As the National Ice Taskforce hands down its interim report into the damage done by the drug, the ABC’s 7.30 program visited one of the places worst hit — the small town of 4,500 people, just five hours’ drive west of Sydney.

Locals said the drug was wreaking havoc on their community and they were determined to take matters into their own hands, including launching community campaigns urging residents to “dob in a dealer”, even though that means pointing the finger at friends, family or neighbours.

See ABC 7.30 transcript below WATCH VIDEO

This week Sydney, the Taskforce members presented their interim report on the use and impacts of crystal methamphetamine (ice) on the Australian community to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).  The interim report provides COAG leaders with the Taskforce’s initial analysis of this complex issue, an overview of existing efforts and gaps to tackle the problem, and advice about what more needs to be done.

The Prime Minister, all Premiers and Chief Ministers, and the President of the Australian Local Government Association noted the interim report, which was shaped by the experiences and advice the Taskforce heard from its many discussions held across Australia. Read the outcomes of the meeting here .

The feedback received from the Australian community paints a worrying picture about the impact of ice.  During its consultations the Taskforce heard from many experts and community members who are concerned about the impact of ice and received over 1300 written submissions.

The Taskforce has identified six areas for action where they believe more work needs to be done by all governments, and where the greatest benefits can be gained to assist ice users, their families, communities and the workforce to tackle this complex problem.

These six areas are:

  1. Target primary prevention
  2. Improve access to early intervention, treatment and support services
  3. Support local communities to respond
  4. Improve tools for frontline workers
  5. Focus law enforcement actions
  6. Improve and consolidate research and data

These six areas will form the basis for the next phase of activity, as the Taskforce completes its final report to the Prime Minister and works with all governments to develop the National Ice Action Strategy.

The Strategy will comprise detailed initiatives under each of these areas, and will be brought back to COAG for endorsement before the end of this year.

The Taskforce would like to thank the many Australians who have taken the time to share their experiences and expertise, through both the written submissions process and the consultations the Taskforce, Ministers and Members of Parliament have held with communities around Australia.

Additional Resources

Fact sheets, further documents and a list of frequently asked questions and their answers are available on the further information page

Wellington, in central NSW, nicknamed ‘South Pole’ for alarming ice habit

There is so much of the drug ice in the town of Wellington, in central NSW, that it has earned the unenviable nickname of “The South Pole”.

As the National Ice Taskforce hands down its interim report into the damage done by the drug, the ABC’s 7.30 program visited one of the places worst hit — the small town of 4,500 people, just five hours’ drive west of Sydney.

Locals said the drug was wreaking havoc on their community and they were determined to take matters into their own hands, including launching community campaigns urging residents to “dob in a dealer”, even though that means pointing the finger at friends, family or neighbours.

“I really believe that it’s crippling our town,” local land council chief executive officer Leanne Stanley said.

“I see huge effects on our people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

“We all walk past drug dealers every day, we’re related to drug dealers, we have associations [with them].

“We love our people, we just don’t love what they do.

“They’re just so blinded by money, they’re blinded to the fact that they’re actually destroying people’s lives.”

Wellington local land council CEO Leanne Stanley.

Many of the dealers in town are local users who are paying for their own habit by supplying crystal methamphetamine.

The town’s senior policeman, Senior Sergeant Simon Madgwick, said he realised the “dob in a dealer” program would not solve the problem, but said it might buy the town’s users some time.

“Supply is the biggest issue,” Snr Sgt Madgwick said.

“If we can tackle the suppliers, hopefully, for those people using ice, if they can’t get ice, maybe they’ll seek help, get rehab, maybe seek the support of the community.”

Ice users can have ‘superhuman’ strength

The ABC’s cameras captured one incident that reflected the scale of the problem.

Police delayed a train in Wellington while they removed a man suspected of being under the influence of ice.

The aggressive, agitated man argued with police while officers searched his partner’s bag.

Senior Sergeant Simon Madgwick holds an anti-ice campaign poster.

They found a syringe and a small amount of the drug.

The woman had a serious eye injury and police allege she had been kicked in the head by her partner.

While police were distracted by the search, the man fled on foot and sparked a 24-hour manhunt involving police from two towns.

Subsequent checks revealed he was the subject of an apprehended violence order and police believe he had breached the conditions of that order.

He was eventually arrested in Dubbo and charged with assaulting his partner.

Sen Sgt Madgwick said the effects of ice were much worse than other drugs he had seen in the past.

“I’ve been a cop for 20 years, but when someone is under the influence of ice they can have a superhuman strength — so strong, so fast, so unpredictable, so aggressive,” he said.

“You need a number of police to bring them down, to take them down to the ground without resorting to OC [capsicum] spray.”

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