Ice experts to give tips at Benalla forum

Tim McCurdy
Tim McCurdy
Bill Sykes

Bill Sykes

A Benalla “ice” forum aims to alert North-East residents on how to detect the drug’s use, engage with addicts and turn for help.

A stakeholders’ meeting afterwards is likely to draw attention to the need for more services.

The forum, with an expert panel, will be held at the Benalla Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday from noon to 1.30pm.

Speakers will include member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy, who is on state parliament’s law reform, drugs and crime prevention committee; member for Benalla Bill Sykes and representatives from the Justice Department, Human Services Department, Victoria Police and public health group Anex.

Justice Department regional director John Duck said the forum would explain everything from how methamphetamine affected users’ physical and psychological health to the signs and symptoms of dependency, withdrawal and psychosis.

“If you are a parent, friend, carer or relative understanding how the drug manifests will help you identify the problem and access help for the person,” Mr Duck said.

“If it’s your son or daughter, it allows you to deal with it in the most appropriate way.”

Mr Duck said stakeholders would likely raise the need for more treatment facilities but the challenge would be how to make that happen.

Ice use had increased with damaging effects on families, and communities, but he was unsure if there was a need for more treatment as that aspect wasn’t in his department’s domain.

“Ice can have a serious negative effect on the health and wellbeing of users and it threatens community safety,” he said.

“Ice use and crimes committed to fund its consumption also increases demand on policing, healthcare and mental health services.”

Mr Duck said his department had taken a leadership role in forums after seeing ice use as an “emerging issue” but denied it was due to the drug’s use by prisoners.

It wasn’t evident in any of the data he’d seen that the prisoners required further treatment services.

“From what I’ve seen they’re all getting the treatment they need,” he said.

Mr Duck hoped a broad cross-section of people would attend as the drug was used by people from all backgrounds, and would welcome parents, teachers, coaches, managers of sporting teams and employers.