Page 1438 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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Recent data is also suggesting that ice users and those who use methamphetamine at least monthly tend to engage in more risky behaviours than those who use only irregularly—less than monthly—with 90 per cent engaging in risky activity such as working or driving under the influence, as compared to 50 per cent of irregular users.

All of this suggests that we most certainly do need to attend to the issue of methamphetamine use in our community and, in particular, to the use of ice. As a responsible government we acknowledge the issues of concern, including the risk and potential harms associated with its use.

Crystal meth is smoked, injected, ingested orally or snorted. People who use methamphetamine monthly or more often have a rate of mental health diagnosis four to seven times that of those who use it less frequently, and ice users in particular are more likely than those who use other forms to report a mental health diagnosis. For some people the use of ice is associated with violence and psychotic behaviour, and this can have adverse impacts on families and the broader community. These harms were noted in the Australian Crime Commission report on the Australian methylamphetamine market published earlier this year.

People who use methamphetamines, and their families, need to be provided with access to support, information and treatment. It is important that information, advice and interventions are available in locations where users will access them and in ways that are acceptable to them.

As a government the ACT invests $16.4 million annually in specialist drug treatment and support services. These include information and education, counselling support and case management, withdrawal management, and residential and non-residential rehabilitation programs. In contrast, the commonwealth only funds approximately $3 million in treatment and support services in the ACT annually.

The ACT has traditionally had the largest proportion of non-government organisations, at 90 per cent, providing treatment, compared to government-operated services. New South Wales has had the smallest proportion of NGOs providing treatment, at only 24 per cent.

ACT drug treatment and support services report a significant increase in the number of people presenting with methamphetamine problems. In the ACT methamphetamine was reported as the principal or other drug of concern for 11 per cent of treatment episodes in 2013-14, up from 6.4 per cent of treatment episodes in the previous year.

The government takes a harm minimisation approach which, from a policing perspective, is focused on supply reduction. It is clear from the Australian Crime Commission’s national report on crystal methylamphetamine that organised crime is taking advantage of a profitable illicit market. The ACT does have an existing alcohol, tobacco and other drugs strategy, which is a whole-of-government strategy across all drug types. The next iteration of the strategy is currently being finalised and is expected to be published this year. The overarching approach of the strategy is to focus on the three pillars of harm minimisation: supply reduction, harm reduction and demand reduction.

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