Horsham ice forums attract fresh interest

MORE than two-thirds of the audience at Wednesday night's crystal methamphetamine forum in Horsham were attending an ice forum for the first time.

Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce co-ordinator and Grampians Community Health alcohol and other drugs counsellor Brendan Scale said he was pleased people were still interested in finding out more about the highly-addictive substance and its devastating effects.

"We're just happy to see people still want to be educated about the drug," he said.

"As long as people want the information, we'll continue to run these events."

About 230 people took part in forums at Wesley Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night.

The afternoon session mostly drew health professionals.

Guest speaker and MICA paramedic Alan Eade explained the different forms of methamphetamine and their effects.

"We are indebted to Alan for volunteering his time and paying his own expenses to come and talk to our community," Mr Scale said.

"His expertise is so valuable."

Mr Scale said a question and answer session was a highlight.

People in the audience sent their questions anonymously to a mobile phone number via text message.

The questions were then answered by a panel comprising Mr Scale, Mr Eade, Horsham Police Inspector Trevor Ashton, Grampians Community Health alcohol and other drugs counsellor Russell Reid and Horsham Mental Health Services area manager Mick Fryer.

"A lot of the questions were very frank and showed people really want to get to the root of the issue," Mr Scale said.

"People also wanted to know what they can do about it, which is great.

"It shows Wimmera people don't consider ice to be someone else's problem.

"They are realising that everyone can play a part by looking out for someone who might be travelling down that path."

Mr Scale said Mr Ashton reinforced the message that there would be no ramifications for community members sending anonymous tips to Crimestoppers.

"He said that police base their work on information and if the public can help out, it will speed up the process," he said.

Mr Scale thanked all involved, including a recovering ice user named 'Steve' who shared his experience via video.

The forum was filmed by SBS program The Feed and had also received interest from national radio and ABC television show Australian Story.

Mr Scale hopes increasing media exposure will highlight the important work of the taskforce, which is unfunded.

He said the taskforce would continue to work with its partners to deliver a range of forums and initiatives.

There will be an indigenous ice forum at Wimmera Trade Training Centre on Friday and a community forum in Hopetoun on August 5.

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