The federal government has committed $5.7 million in funding for north coast health services to tackle the fallout from the dangerous drug ice, which is impacting heavily on the regional community.
Page MP Kevin Hogan was joined yesterday by rural health minister Senator Fiona Nash to announce the funding, flowing from the Ice Taskforce Forum the two MPs hosted a year ago in Lismore at the Workers Club.
Mr Hogan said the North Coast Primary Health Network would be funded to develop drug treatment services and help reduce the demand for the drug.
‘Local problems need local solutions and this huge injection of funds to the North Coast Primary Health Network will allow it to roll our local programs that are specifically designed to combat the spread of ‘ice’ (crystal methamphetamine) in our community,’ he said.
‘Ice is playing havoc in many regional communities, including ours. The government response to the Ice Taskforce will allow our community to tackle ice use head on.
‘Ice not only hurts the user, it tears apart families and puts our frontline emergency workers like nurses and police in physical danger,’ Mr Hogan said.
The NCPHN, he said, had already conducted local-needs assessment to determine where there are gaps in services and from July 1 would start using this money to provide various rehabilitation services.
‘This is an all-of-government approach. We must help users get off this drug while we crack down on dealers.’
The approach was recommended by the federal government’s National Ice Taskforce, led by the former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Mr Ken Lay.
The government asked the Taskforce to provide advice on the development of a national ice action strategy.
Senator Nash said the ‘devastating scourge of ice often hits regional communities the hardest’.
‘I have visited countless regional towns and spoken with hundreds of families who are grappling with the impact of this terrible drug – including here on the north coast,’ she said.
‘Local police, health workers and the National Ice Taskforce have all said we simply cannot arrest our way out of this problem.
‘To break the drug dealer’s business model, we have to smash demand for their terrible product,’ the minister said.