The drug crystal methamphetamine – also known as ‘ice’, is causing health and community issues that the NSW Govt considers to be of such drastic proportions that a Special Commission of Inquiry into the drug will hold two days of public hearings in Nowra from May 30 to 31.
The Commission will investigate the impacts of, and responses to, crystal methamphetamine use on the NSW South Coast.
The Commission was established by the NSW Government to inquire into: The nature, prevalence and impacts of the drug crystal methamphetamine – also known as ‘ice’ – and other illicit amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) in NSW; The adequacy of current measures to target crystal methamphetamine and other illicit ATS; and, Options to strengthen NSW’s response, including law enforcement, education, treatment and rehabilitation responses.
The Commission will report to the NSW Governor later this year. The Commissioner, Professor Dan Howard SC, said the harmful impacts of crystal methamphetamine use were well documented.
‘We know that crystal methamphetamine use is damaging families and communities on the NSW South Coast,’ said Professor Howard said. ‘It is important that the Commission hears in Nowra from the people and organisations who are working to meet these challenges, and who have insights about how the problems might best be addressed.’
During the hearings in Nowra, the Commission will hear about the challenges posed by crystal methamphetamine use in the region and local responses to the problem. Health and hospital workers, police and paramedics, and drug and alcohol service providers are among the witnesses expected to appear at the hearing.
The Commission will hear about the views and experiences of members of the Indigenous community at a private roundtable hearing.
The evidence of witnesses with lived experience of crystal methamphetamine use and its effects on families may be heard in private. A list of the witnesses expected to give evidence at the public hearings will be published on the Inquiry’s website on the morning of the hearing.
Drug policy in Australia recognises that drug use is primarily a health issue. While the underlying drivers that lead people to use crystal methamphetamine and other illicit ATS are complex, it is known that problematic drug use is often rooted in social disadvantage, including poverty, unemployment and homelessness.
The association between homelessness and crystal methamphetamine use on the South Coast will be one focus of the Nowra hearings.
Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that in 2018, the Shoalhaven Local Government Area had a higher rate per 100,000 people of possession and/or use of amphetamines than the NSW average (131.7 vs 92.1).
The rate of methamphetamine-related hospitalisations in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District in 2016-17 was slightly higher than the state average (141.7 vs 136.3), NSW Health data shows. A quarter of the clients who attended the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District in 2017 for assistance with substance use issues sought help for amphetamine use.
The hearing dates are Thursday 30 May and Friday 31 May from 9.30am at the Nowra Local Court, 88 Plunket Street, Nowra. The hearing is open the the public.
Alcohol and Other Drugs Support
National 24/7 Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline: 1800 250 015
Counselling Online: counsellingonline.org.au
Illawarra and Shoalhaven Local Health District Drug & Alcohol Service: 1300 652 226