Benalla ice forum | No single way to tackle ice

COMMUNITIES could soon develop their own personalised approaches to tackling the drug “ice”.

And all service providers will need to work together to be successful in reducing the prevalence of the drug, Department of Human Services spokesman

Richard Slade said yesterday after a Benalla forum on the drug.

About 130 people from across the North East — family and friends of users, concerned citizens, schools, sporting clubs and those working in community health — met at Benalla Performing Arts Centre.

It was an information session on how the drug worked, its ongoing effects and signs and symptoms of withdrawal and dependency.

Mr Slade said it was good to see such a turn-out at an event “where people can talk about an issue which challenges communities”.

He said ultimately, the Department of Human Services and other key stakeholders, including the departments of justice and health, police, and community health providers, wanted to create a “place-based approach” together.

“Issues tend to arise where each provider tries to solve it off their own bat,” he said.

That approach could also differ from region to region, depending on resources available in a particular area and the extent of the problem.

“Ice has touched each community a little differently, depending on where you go, while each community is also different in its own right,” Mr Slade said.

“So we’re going to have to draw on the resources available in those communities, which can be quite different from place to place.”

Justice Department regional director John Duck said the forum was a first step in addressing the ice problem as a community.

Guests heard from Crios O’Mahony, of public health group Anex, on the dangers of the drug, including startling ­anecdotes such as an ice user who stayed awake 12 days while on the drug.

Mr O’Mahony said the drug had become something of a “cure-all” for the 21st century, with younger people reporting it was becoming as common at parties as alcohol or marijuana.

The forum then quizzed a panel including Mr O’Mahony, Mr Slade, Acting Supt Haydn Downes, Gateway Community Health’s Bianca Deus-Martin and Odyssey House’s Andy Hick.

Mr Hick said in the past two years, ice had become the second-most common addiction treated at the rehabilitation centre.