Wimmera indigenous community ice forum a success

Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce co-ordinator and Grampians Community Health alcohol and other drugs counsellor Brendan Scale. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce co-ordinator and Grampians Community Health alcohol and other drugs counsellor Brendan Scale. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

THE Wimmera’s first indigenous community ice forum went for five hours, and still attendees wanted more.

About 50 people attended from 10.30am on Friday at the Wimmera Trade Training Centre.

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative organised the event to inform and empower the region’s indigenous community.

Together, they formed the foundations for a community action plan.

Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce co-ordinator and Grampians Community Health alcohol and other drugs counsellor Brendan Scale said suggestions included establishing an indigenous family support group and creating guidelines for families co-existing with ice users.

“The indigenous community forms a small part of the Wimmera’s population,” he said.

“The incidence of them presenting to Grampians Community Health is proportionate to that.

"We know there  is  a very small number of people causing them very large concern.

"We came up with an action plan to deal with a family situation.”

A Wimmera mother, who wished to remain anonymous, stood up and shared some insights into the pain and chaos her family had endured.

Her adult son is hooked on crystal methamphetamine.

“There is no racism or discrimination with this drug,” the woman said. 

“One word I would use to describe it is debilitating.”

She hoped sharing her story would inspire another family in need to seek support.

“Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about asking for help, because it’s there,” she said.

The woman said she had lost count of the number of times she had called police to have her son removed from her house.

Sometimes, they feared for their lives or the man’s life.

“Eventually someone told me to call psychiatric services in Ballarat, and it was the best thing I have ever done,” she said.

The woman said getting her son help that day was also the most embarrassing day of her life.

Her son had to be arrested by police and conveyed to Ballarat by paramedics.

“People down the street were having a good old gawk and sticky,” she said.

Although seeing him in the hospital was heart wrenching, the woman said it was worth it.

“Before then, he was picked up on a number of occasions by police and taken to the hospital,” she said.

But he was discharged, which meant he went back home.

“You’d be walking on eggshells again, not knowing if there was going to be another explosion,” the woman said.

The woman said she found speaking with friends and other families living with users helped.

She has attended Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce’s family support group and a mental health first aid workshop.

“Talking is not going to change what’s going on, but it certainly does help get you through it,” she said. 

“Stand up, be loud and proud because we need to work together to conquer this.”

Forum emcee Les Power commended the woman on her strength.

“What we’re talking about at this forum is what this lady has gone through, and is going through, and a lot of other families are going to be going through too because some people out there are making dollars out of this, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

“They do not see and they do not want to see the damage that their product is doing.”

He encouraged people to call Goolum Goolum on 5381 6333 to discuss the indigenous forum.

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