Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce could use $34m to tackle ice

WIMMERA Drug Action Taskforce hopes to gain a significant slice of $34 million available to tackle the drug ‘ice’ in Victoria. 

The State Government has included the Grampians region, along with Gippsland, Hume and outer metropolitan Melbourne as targeted funding areas.

Taskforce co-ordinator Brendan Scale said he was excited about what the money could achieve.

“We would use it to implement our whole regional ice action plan,” he said. 

“It’s a comprehensive plan dealing with prevention right through to treatment involving a multi-agency service and community services.

“If we were to receive funding it would be towards the implementation of every aspect of that plan.”

Final details of the funding allocations will be released in Tuesday’s budget.

Mr Scale said the region was in dire need of funding to try to stop the damaging effects of the drug on families.

“Ice use hasn’t abated by any means,” he said. 

“We’ve noticed in the past few months that the issues have diversified. 

“Ice is still prevalent but it appears as though it might be a vehicle for introduction to other party drugs and that’s a concern for us.”

“Ice is still prevalent but it appears as though it might be a vehicle for introduction to other party drugs and that’s a concern for us.” - Brendan Scale

He said while previously ice – crystal methamphetamine – was the main illicit drug of concern, a smorgasbord of illicit drugs was now readily available throughout the region.

“We know anecdotally and from our data that ice and other drugs are causing our community across the Grampians and the Wimmera a lot of concern and that’s why the State Government has identified our region as needing funding,” he said.

Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said a parliamentary inquiry into ice had shown that action was needed in rural areas.

“The inquiry echoed concerns we are hearing across the state about the dangerous and devastating impact of ice on families and communities,” she said.

“This budget expands drug and alcohol treatment services at targeted locations across the state as well as expanding support for hospital emergency departments.”

Mr Scale said the taskforce would lead community forums on prevention and treatment of ice abuse at Warracknabeal Community Centre on May 28, Ararat Town Hall on June 4 and Wesley Performing Arts Centre in Horsham later in the year.

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