Over recent weeks we have addressed the national response to ice in Australia. This week we focus on Queensland’s efforts as outlined in Action on Ice, the Queensland Government’s draft plan to address use and harms caused by crystal methamphetamine.
As is the case nation-wide, ice is impacting many Queensland communities. Its effects on individuals, families, communities and frontline service providers are the focal point of Queensland’s response.
Action on Ice notes that although ice is not the most misused drug in Australia, nor is it responsible for the greatest levels of social and health harms (this mantle still rests with alcohol), the adverse impacts and increasing levels of ice use, together with the involvement of organised crime in its production, supply and distribution means that action is needed.
Successfully tackling ice and the associated issues requires more than just a law and order or health response. It is necessary that all levels of government, industry, communities, families and individuals work together in order for strategies to lead to successful solutions. As such the Queensland Government worked closely with the Commonwealth Government and other States and Territories to develop the National Ice Action Strategy in response to the Final Report of the National Ice Taskforce.
The National Ice Action Strategy guides the development and implementation of initiatives nationally across five priority areas:
- Support for families and communities
- Targeted prevention
- Investment in treatment and workforce
- Focused law enforcement
- Better research and data.
Queensland actions to support national and local implementation of the National Ice Action Strategy to address ice cannot occur in isolation and need to be implemented within the broader context and evidence base of responding to the problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. Reducing the supply, demand and harms associated with substance misuse can only be achieved through all key stakeholders nationally and in each State and Territory working together.
In Queensland there are currently a range of initiatives aimed at reducing both the demand and supply of illicit drugs, as well as the harms experienced as a result of drug use. Frontline services, education campaigns as well as Queensland Police Service (QPS) initiatives to disrupt supply are in place.
The three pillars to reduce harm from alcohol and other drug misuse on individuals, families and communities are:
- Reducing the supply of alcohol and other drugs (through law enforcement activity)
- Reducing the demand (through prevention, early intervention and treatment)
- Reducing the harms (through specialised programs, services and initiatives).
Further to current responses, the government is proposing additional initiatives to holistically address ice usage. Action on Ice builds on existing efforts underway across Queensland in health, law, education and community services to continue to address ice and other substances of concern in the community.
In order to respond more extensively, an additional investment of $43 million over five years has been provided under Connecting Care to Recovery 2016 – 2021: A plan for Queensland’s State-funded mental health, alcohol and other drug services to increase access to specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services.
Enhanced enforcement of criminal drug laws with a focus on targeting criminal networks involved in the production and supply of illicit drugs including ice through the application of the newly enacted Organised Crime Regime is part of the plan. As is, cooperation with other jurisdictions, including working through the National Anti-Gangs Squad to tackle the significant involvement of organised criminal syndicates, such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, involved in the production and distribution of ice is also part of the response.
Providing preventative measures through the implementation of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Education Program delivered to students in Years 7 to 12 is key. Designing and delivering targeted, peer-led prevention messages to high risk populations is another strategy as is the exploration of options to provide specialist services for people experiencing severe substance dependence who are at risk of serious harms due to associated mental illness, cognitive impairment and/or other clinical factors.
To read more, go go to Actions on Ice.
To contribute to this discussion and offer ideas on how to tackle ice in Queensland you can provide a written submission to:
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet
PO Box 15185
City East, Queensland 4002
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The closing date for submissions is Friday, 19th May 2017.