NACCHO Ice News :Ice problem in Canberra reaches crisis proportions, Indigenous health service says


‘Ice is devastating our communities’

I lost my business, I lost my wife and children,

After more than two years staying clean, I have continued to deal with a daily struggle.

I’m still battling, I still get urges to have ice, it’s everywhere, it’s hard,

Ice is destroying our communities, not just the Indigenous community, all communities.

Winnunga Nimmityjah-run men’s support group has been invaluable in his rehabilitation

A big thing about dealing with addiction is support and the men’s group is just that,

“They’re not judgemental, they’ve pretty much been through a battle just like you.”

Former methamphetamine user Micah Hill knows only too well the power of the drug ice.

Photo: Canberra man Micah Hill talks about his additcion to ice at a Winnunga Nimmityjah event. (ABC News: Greg Nelson)

We need more Aboriginal case workers and I need to triple my social health team if we’re going to be able to make a real difference.

Julie Tongs, Winnunga Nimmityjah Chief Executive

Crystal methamphetamine is having a dramatic impact on Canberra’s Indigenous community and experts have warned the problem is getting worse.

Canberra’s only indigenous health service said the ice problem in the ACT had reached crisis proportions.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service held a forum in Canberra on Tuesday to help the community better deal with the scourge.

The health service’s Chief Executive Julie Tongs said she had witnessed an enormous increase in the number of ice-affected clients over the past 18 months.

“Every day we see an ice-affected person at Winnunga, there’s often more than one, but we would have somebody probably have a psychotic episode here maybe every couple of days,” she said.

“We’ve always had a big intravenous drug problem in this community, but the impact of ice and the psychosis that it causes for people has been devastating.

“We’re seeing second and third generation users and these are the families that keep getting battered every time and they don’t have the resources to put their kids into private rehabs.”

Ms Tongs said the problem had become harder to manage.

“We have a very small waiting room and a lot of very sick people and people with multiple chronic diseases,” she said.

“We have around 1,900 clients with a diagnosed mental illness and some of them are also drug affected.

“We need more Aboriginal case workers and I need to triple my social health team if we’re going to be able to make a real difference.”

Family members looking for support at the forum were reminded of the value of their role in the rehabilitation process.

Victorian based drug rehabilitation trainer Kathleen Orr said rehabilitation education had been welcomed by family members.

“I think whenever a family member starts using drugs in a dangerous and addictive way the family members get an education that they didn’t want to have, but it’s going to be a useful thing because then they can be more supportive.”

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