ADMISSIONS from addicts, 15-year-old girls prostituting themselves to get their next hit and serious assaults on hospital staff.
This was the face of ice on the Northern Rivers presented to Senator Fiona Nash and Page MP Kevin Hogan at yesterday's National Ice Taskforce forum in Lismore.
Established by the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the taskforce was formed to develop a National Ice Action Strategy to tackle the growing use of crystal methamphetamine, known as ice.
Senator Nash said this was the third forum to be held by the taskforce, which will provide an interim report to the Council of Australian Governments in mid-2015.
The final strategy will be released before the end of the year.
"There has been a rapid escalation in this drug particularly in rural and regional communities over the past few years," she said.
"There were concerns raised about the level of resources available to deal with this drug here in the community.
"It's not just about resourcing, its a matter of local communities working together, integrating services and collectively approaching the issue to try and find a way forward to deal with this issue here locally."
- 59% of illicit drugs imported to Australia in 2014 were ice
- More than one in 14 Australians have tried ice
- About 200,000 Australians have used ice in the past year
- Police seized more than 10 tonnes of precursor chemicals used to make ice last year
- This seizure stopped 45 million deals of ice, valued at $3.8 billion, hitting the streets
Tweed Hospital union delegate Murray Carlson told of being assaulted by patients in "ice rage" and seeing addicts throw hospital beds across rooms.
The forum heard girls as young as 15 were prostituting themselves to score ice in the region.
Northern Rivers GP Dr David Helliwell told the forum smoking ice was the preferred method for addicts.
"Smoking produces raised blood and brain levels much faster than injecting ice," he said.
Dr Helliwell suggested the taskforce look at how health workers should manage ice affected patients when they present at accident and emergency or mental health services.
He told the forum there were only involuntary treatment programs for ice addicts at Sydney and Orange.
Jarjum Aboriginal preschool director Maurita Cavanaugh said more residential rehabilitation places were needed for ice addicts instead of sending them to jail.
"A lot of the people who are on ice go to jail because we can't tolerate them," she said. "Jail is not helping them; they need to get help and get rehabilitated."
Dr Jennifer Johnston of the North Coast University Centre for Rural Health said she wanted to speak to people who, through their work, were impacted by or had contact with people who used drugs, including ice.
Dr Johnston said she was particularly interested in the experiences of drug and alcohol workers, mental health workers, hospital staff, paramedics, police and community services workers.
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