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'Ice' impact voiced at Benalla fourm

Service providers across the Hume region have taken the first step towards minimising the severe effects of the drug ice.

MONIQUE FREER March 26, 2014 4:20am

Service providers across north-east Victoria have taken the first step towards minimising the devastating effects of the drug ice on communities across the region.

About 130 people from the Hume region — from sporting clubs and schools, local government representatives, concerned citizens and friends and family of users — gathered at Benalla Performing Arts and Convention Centre on Wednesday to gain a greater understanding of the dangers of the powerful methamphetamine.

Department of Justice regional director John Duck said ice was permeating a whole range of levels within the community, which was reflected in the forum’s attendance.

‘‘Clearly people will walk away with more information about methamphetamine... and what support services are available,’’ Mr Duck said.

Health and government experts also took part in a private workshop to discuss how best to mount a co-ordinated response to managing the issues the drug is causing within communities.

Public health group Anex trainer Crios O’Mahony had the audience captivated for one hour when he spoke candidly about the drug, its method of action and its dangers.

‘‘It truly has a devastating effect on you if you become a habitual drug user,’’ Mr O’Mahony said.

However, education was the key in tackling the growing epidemic, he said.

‘‘The more you can understand about ice, the more you will be in a better position to help people around ice use,’’ he said

‘‘Some of the big things is to keep dialogue open, especially with loved ones ... if you can keep the dialogue open you’ll have better outcomes.

‘‘If you have a loved one who uses ice, it’s a good idea to prepare for when things go wrong. I don’t mean if things go wrong, I mean when things go wrong.’’

The forum concluded with a question-and-answer session with a panel of representatives from Victoria Police, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Gateways Community Health, Hume courts and Odyssey House.See the full coverage of Benalla’s ice forum in today’s Ensign.

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