Community Concerns Aired at Lismore Ice Forum

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The federal member for Page, Kevin Hogan, says there is no simple solution to the problems posed by ice use in local communities.

Mr Hogan hosted a forum on the issue in Lismore today which attracted about 100 people.

Many raised concerns about stretched health resources and spiralling use of the drug.

The Nationals’ MP said the issues raised by users, health workers and community-service staff will be passed on to the National Ice Taskforce.

“This drug is a disaster, and we heard many stories of people’s lives unravelling,” Mr Hogan said.

“The impact it’s having on families and indeed the community is why we want to do something.

“There’s no silver bullet to this unfortunately, but the ideas that are coming from days like today are important [so] that government allocates its resources as best it can to try and help the community.”

A research fellow at Lismore’s University Centre for Rural Health told the forum there was no evidence to suggest the Northern Rivers was in the grip of an ice epidemic.

Doctor Jennifer Johnston said more work needs to be done on drug-use patterns in regional areas.

“There is research that’s being done in metropolitan centres of Australia, which shows that what’s actually happening is that there’s not more people using [amphetamines] but they’re using [ice] instead of speed,” she said.

“The methamphetamine is more pure and that is why we’re seeing more harms.

“So we’re not seeing greater numbers of users, although we are seeing potentially greater harms.”

Assistance Health Minister Fiona Nash, who attended the forum in Lismore, denied the Federal Government was running a scare campaign.

“I’d say not at all,” she said.

“One of the things that we’re really focussed on is making sure that, through this taskforce process, get the data and the evidence to properly inform a national strategy.”

The school captain of Lismore’s Trinity Catholic College, Evie Sharman, told the meeting education about ice and its effects needed to be more comprehensive.

“There’s a lot of mystery surrounding ice, and the education and the information that we’re given is not very clear and it’s kind of skimmed over, it’s not really in depth,” she said.

“Perhaps a fear-based approach to [put] the fear into the children about ice is good, but at the same time we need the information.

“We need to know the facts.

“If one of my friends was on ice, I would have no idea how to react.”
Source: ABC News

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