Regional ice committees, enhanced policing, education, harm reduction programs and facilities for withdrawal and treatment are among more than 50 recommendations contained in the final report into use of the illicit drug in Victoria.DARREN LINTON September 4, 2014 4:12am
Lots to consider: Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said his government would carefully consider the inquiry's 54 recommendations into illicit drug use.
State Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay, who chaired the parliamentary Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee that compiled the report, said much time was spent visiting rural and regional Victoria. The committee took evidence about how the use of methamphetamine, particularly crystal methamphetamine, was affecting these communities.
‘‘It was clear that people from across the state felt that methamphetamine was having a damaging effect on sections of their community and that extra support was required in the areas of health, law enforcement, education and, particularly, family support,’’ he said.
‘‘In short, the committee believes there needs to be a response to a drug problem that is having a significant impact on the social fabric of local communities.’’
The report said the use of the drug ice had remained stable in Victoria, but rising purity had dramatically increased its harmful effects.
Young Victorian men aged 20 to 29 were the most frequent users of the drug and they were more commonly using its potent crystal rather than powdered form.
‘‘This exaggerates the drug’s harmful effect,’’ Mr Ramsay said.
‘‘It’s a drug that takes no prisoners in terms of its addictiveness.’’
About two per cent of the Victorian community was estimated to be using ice.
The report calls for establishment of a premier-led ministerial council and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine yesterday used the release of the inquiry report to announce several measures to strengthen policing.
All highway patrol cars in Victoria will be given the power to conduct roadside drug tests at a cost of $4.5
Shepparton was one of the first areas of the state to be equipped for mobile drug testing.
A further $1.6 million will be allocated to train 11 additional drug sniffer dogs, with eight to be based in regional areas.
Dr Napthine said drugs — including ice — were a factor in 26 per cent of road fatalities.
‘‘Ice is a dangerous drug that can, and unfortunately does, ruin lives,’’ he said.
He said the government would consider the Victorian parliamentary inquiry’s 54 recommendations carefully.
Committee member Ben Carroll said ice had become pervasive in regional towns where it was ‘‘very cheap and very accessible’’.
Committee member David Southwick said television had also played a role in glamorising ice through popular shows such as Breaking Bad.
‘‘We need to send a very clear message out to the community that this drug is a dirty drug, it is being marketed quite the opposite even by its name,’’ he said.
The Bureau of Meteorology has released a severe weather warning for regions that include Shepparton. It includes damaging winds and the potential for flash flooding.
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