Premier reveals plan to tackle drug destroying Rocky lives
THE Queensland government says it will 'come down hard' to tackle the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine) after developing solutions directly with the communities battling the effects of the insidious drug.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a draft plan would aim to break the cycle of drug use by attacking every aspect of the path to addiction and ruin.
The first summit on tackling ice will be held in Rockhampton on April 27.
It follows the Premier's meeting with the brave mothers of ice victims during her initiative to govern from Central Queensland a fortnight ago.
The summits will be part of the consultation on the draft plan before the end of March.
"I've spoken to the families of the people who pay the terrible toll of this drug - the families of the victims, the families desperately trying to pull their loved ones from its awful grip," she said.
"We need to come down hard with the full resources of our law enforcement agencies on the criminal groups producing this drug, be they outlaw motorcycle gangs or international syndicates or any other group.
"But we need to do much more than that. Ice may be slightly less addictive than heroin, but its effects trap users in a downward spiral that takes far greater time and resources to escape.
"Some health professionals suggest a rehabilitation pathway needs to be about 18 months long because it takes that long for users to recover basic abilities that most Queenslanders take for granted.
"Many family members I have spoken to are having to care for their grandchildren on a fulltime basis because their addicted children have lost sight of the most basic human instincts, like caring for one's own children.
"The impact of ice is felt across so many areas of government - not just police and the courts, but health, housing, communities and education.
"Importantly, it causes a disproportionate level of harm in regional areas that we know are already doing it tough in many other ways.
"That's why my government's action plan to attack ice will come at the problem from all sides at once - and will start in our regions."
Health Minister Cameron Dick said the draft action plan followed on from a number of frontline measures already in place to tackle the scourge of the drug.
"The Palaszczuk Government has significantly increased resources towards treatment services across Queensland, including $43 million in new funding towards alcohol and drug treatment services over five years," he said.
"We have also introduced rehabilitation, treatment and outreach services in Cooktown, the Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Charleville and Cunnamulla and Drug and Alcohol Brief Intervention teams in Logan and Townsville Hospital emergency departments.
"We are also rolling out additional security measures to help protect our staff from assault and abuse by people who may be affected by ice."
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said ice was an issue confronting child safety workers on the frontline, as well as Queensland children who may be at risk of harm.
"When I travel Queensland and meet with hard-working child safety officers, they are telling me this is a growing issue for their already challenging work," she said.
"In fact, one in three children coming in to out-of-home care had a parent who was using ice.
"We need to make sure parents get the support they need to get better and that we have the toughest measures in place to keep kids safe. This is why we have already implemented tough new drug testing for parents."
Minister for Police Mark Ryan said the Palaszczuk Government fully supported Queensland Police in their efforts to remove all illicit drugs from our streets.
"I have met with police from right across Queensland and our frontline men and women are also facing very similar issues when it comes to dealing with people affected by ice," Minister Ryan said.
"The violence associated with the use of ice is extreme and our police are being confronted all too often by violent offenders affected by drugs.
"The ice summit will bring together all agencies impacted by the growing concern of ice use in their state and will work towards a united approach in the fight against these dangerous drugs."
The government action plan aims to reduce supply, demand and harm by measures including:
- prioritising organised crime investigations into high threat criminal networks that are trafficking ice into Queensland
- using the proceeds of crime function to restrain and forfeit the assets of crime gangs trafficking and producing ice in Queensland
- ensuring the support and resources necessary are available to young people coping the drug use of a friend or family member, through initiatives such as school-based youth health nurses and police officers, adopt-a-cop and youth support
- addressing ice use in high risk industry groups such as mining, rural and remote workforces including FIFO
- increase screening, intervention and referral through GPs and other health professionals for people affected by ice
- identifying options to provide specialist services for people experiencing severe substance dependence who are at risk of serious harm due to associated mental illness, cognitive impairment and other clinically indicated factors
The Premier said the action plan would build on her government's existing commitment of $43 million over five years for specialist alcohol and other drug services through Queensland Health's Connecting Care to Recovery plan.
"One of the clearest messages that I've heard listening to the families most affected by ice is that police and courts are important, but they are only part of a long term solution to tackling ice," she said.
"We need to break the back of this terrible drug in every possible way, to help those under its sway return to being healthy members of their own families, and their communities across Queensland."