Understanding the ice factor

In Parliament - Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (15:25:20): Last night, I hosted a community forum at Blackwood High School on the issue of understanding the ice factor. As you know, there has been extensive media coverage focused on the increasing prevalence of ice use in our community and the damaging effects of this drug. Much of that attention has been fuelled by the statistics of the ever increasing usage of ice and stories of violent and aggressive behaviour triggered by the drug.

Beyond the media attention there are, of course, concerned parents, families, neighbours and local communities. The forum provided an opportunity for community members to come together and hear from experts about the real, non-sensationalised impacts of ice: its use, its impact, and the support services available for addicts and their families.I am very grateful to all those who attended the evening. I would especially like to thank our guest speakers: Mr Roger Nicholas, Senior Project Manager at the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, based at Flinders University; Detective Chief Inspector Tony Crameri, the Investigations Manager at SAPOL; and Ms Sam Raven, Senior Policy and Project Officer at the SA Network of Drug and Alcohol Services.

We were very fortunate to benefit from their wealth of knowledge and expertise. They delivered excellent and informative presentations that covered the facts about ice; what the data tells us about patterns of use; the effects of using ice, especially the long-term cognitive impacts; the indiscriminate use of this insidious drug; and, most importantly, the availability of treatment services for individuals and their families.

I have spoken many times in the house about the damaging impact that drugs continue to have on our community and I have highlighted the importance of appropriate government responses. The overwhelming lesson from last night's forum is the need for increased community and government attention to this area, especially with respect to prevention and treatment.

Prevention has to be multifaceted. It needs to be approached on the home front, at schools and, of course, in our sporting clubs, community groups, neighbourhoods and by law enforcers. A key message from all speakers last night is that there is not enough focus on prevention measures, with little government support or funding in this important area.

There was mixed news on the treatment front. Treatment services for individuals and support services for their families and friends are readily available. However, Sam Raven, from the SA Network of Drug and Alcohol Services, who has extensive experience working in this policy area, including providing counselling to drug users, emphasised that treatment services do work and should be taken up by those who need it. She acknowledged that it is a long road to treatment, there will be hurdles, there will be setbacks, but treatment can and does work.

The challenge, however, is ensuring supply meets demand, in terms of treatment. Treatment services for family members are just as important as those services for individuals affected by drug use. It is an incredibly difficult and exhausting journey for family members, but their support is often critical to a successful outcome for someone seeking drug treatment. We need to ensure they have the support they need.

The federal government has committed additional funding in this area, following the outcomes of the National Ice Taskforce report. However, the sector is still woefully underfunded at a state level. There are simply not enough places available for individuals and their families who are seeking treatment. Unfortunately, after 14 years of a Labor government, we still do not have an alcohol and other drug strategy that receives direct funding.

Last night was an important step in starting an ongoing community conversation about drug use. It is evident that we have some incredible people working hard in this area to combat the spread of drug use, to understand addiction, as well as motivating behaviours to take drugs, and to provide services to help those affected by drug use.

It is important that we utilise their skills and knowledge, and work with them to ensure the next SA Alcohol and Other Drug Strategy for the period 2017-2022 is more successful than the existing 2011-2016 strategy. A funded strategy would be a good start, but we also need a government that is truly committed to delivering on its promises and not just grandstanding for another media bite.

**NOTE: For a PDF copy of Mr Roger Nicholas's presentation referred to in this speech, please download here.