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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

South-west Aboriginal leaders struggling for answers to ice epidemic

Date posted: 7 January 2014

Aboriginal community leaders say they are without answers to solve an ice epidemic destroying families in the south-west of Victoria.

A submission by the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) estimates 85% of its south-west clients, in towns such as Heywood, are on the drug at the time they offend.

The agency has lodged a detailed submission with the state government's parliamentary inquiry into crystal methamphetamine, or ice, which will sit in Warrnambool on 3 March 2014.

Framlingham's Kirrae Health Service is also pushing for a round-table meeting of leading south-west agencies to stem the flow of ice into households.

Heywood-based Winda Mara Corporation Chief Executive, Michael Bell, said young people between 15 and 24 were the main users, with families being torn apart by addiction. 'It's destroying families. We're constantly trying to make sure they're safe. We've had the worst-case scenario over this way. Boredom is a big issue why people experiment with these types of drugs. Unemployment is a big issue but it's also people who are employed,' Mr Bell told The Standard.

Mr Bell said social isolation among users increased problems for Winda Mara and community leaders in reaching out. 'We need good community engagement programs. We offer counselling services and try and connect back to cultural support offices.'

Kirrae Health Service chairman Brian Davis said the Framlingham group was at a loss as to how to prevent the drug spreading. 'It's a health issue definitely, obviously legal implications follow. We don't have any answers; where do you start?' Mr Davis said.

The VALS report also recommends increasing recruitment of Aboriginal workers and more services targeted directly to Aboriginal people.

Source: The Standard


Last updated: 14 January 2014
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