'There’s just no support for them'

Victorian Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee members Ben Carroll, chairman Simon Ramsay, Johan Scheffer, David Southwick and Tim McCurdy take evidence yesterday. Picture: DAVID THORPE

Victorian Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee members Ben Carroll, chairman Simon Ramsay, Johan Scheffer, David Southwick and Tim McCurdy take evidence yesterday. Picture: DAVID THORPE

A FEW days ago, Kerryn Johnston panicked when her daughter Ellie Brooks phoned her from Sydney.

The Mount Beauty mother-of-four constantly worries about Ellie because of her addiction to ice.

But the thought Ellie was about to turn up on her doorstep had her worried about what she could do to help someone so ill and erratic.

She and her husband, Stephen, want a detox and rehabilitation centre in the North East and more education in schools.

Ellie’s addiction became clear to Mrs Johnston in late 2012.

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Yesterday Mrs Johnston told her story to the Victorian Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee as it took its investigation into the supply and use of methamphetamine to Wodonga.

Mrs Johnston said what was so tragic about Ellie’s situation was that the soon-to-turn 25-year-old did not think she needed help.

“She just said (the ice) makes the pain go away,” she said.

Ellie also told her mother: “It’s not the drug, Mum, it’s other stuff in my head”.

“She’s now a full-blown addict,” Mrs Johnston said.

Mr Johnston told the inquiry they almost hoped Ellie would be arrested so she could go to prison and, in so doing, get treatment for her addiction.

“There’s just nothing out there for them,” he said.

“There’s nowhere to go.”

The couple want the inquiry to also have a closer look at the links between mental health and methamphetamine use.

“We need education for families so they know how to become aware of what their children are doing,” she said.

“We have got to give them the strength and the knowledge so they know if they’re falling into a trap.

“I think (children) have got to be told they can ask for help when they need help.”

Mrs Johnston has previously told The Border Mail of how her daughter went to Sydney as a 17-year-old seven years ago to pursue a hairdressing career.

Yesterday she pinpointed when it all started to go wrong.

Ellie had a job but couldn’t afford the rent, then came under the bad influence of someone who moved in to share the financial load.

“The cities are difficult for people to survive,” Mrs Johnston said.

“If there’s no support system they just fall away under the cracks.

“There’s a lot of people who are suffering.”

The inquiry will head to Shepparton today.

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