As Minister for Rural Health, Fiona Nash has seen first-hand the devastating impact the drug ice is having on our regional and rural communities. Following a national tour alongside her colleagues on the National Ice Taskforce, the Federal Government announced the final report and an action plan to help both addicts and their affected communities.
As part of their tour, the Taskforce has found that there are over 200,000 ice users in Australia, meaning Australians use more methamphetamines than almost any other country. The impacts of ice are easily seen and heard and are felt far beyond the users. Family and friends of users, our frontline medical staff, police who deal with violent outbreaks and erratic behaviour and the wider community, all suffer as a result of ice use.
Over the next four years almost $300 million will be invested to help address the impact of ice on our communities. The action plan aims to reduce the demand for ice, decrease the harm it causes and disrupt the chain of supply. It will include improved treatment, after care, education, prevention, and support and community engagement.
The funding will be broken down into the following:
- $241.5 million to be invested through Primary Health Networks, which will use their local knowledge to boost the alcohol and other drug treatment sector and reduce demand for ice.
- $13 million to introduce new MBS items for Addiction Medicine Specialists to increase the availability of treatment.
- $24.9 million to help families and communities by providing the resources, information and support they need to respond to ice.
- $18.8 million to establish better research, evidence and guidelines on ice, including a new Centre for Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern.
The Taskforce has released their Final Report into the ice epidemic and the funding follows this.
The funding will commence from 1 July 2016.
More information about the National Ice Taskforce can be found at www.pmc.gov.au/ice.