“It may be news to some advisors in the Prime Minister’s office but recent statistics provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show that there is no ‘ice epidemic’. In fact use of the drug has barely changed from 2001-2014. What has changed is the shift in use from the powdered form of methamphetamine to ice, and that those who use the drug are using more frequently. The potency of the drug has also increased which exacerbates the drug’s harmful effects.”
“The Prime Minister is simply churning out the same tired old strategy to battle the so-called ‘ice epidemic’” said Ms Patten. “Whilst I applaud any effort to reduce harmful drug use, what we need is drug law reform and to be looking at the root causes of the issue not spouting military style rhetoric and appointing an ‘ice cop’.
“Prime Minister Abbott has simply got it wrong by creating this taskforce and a former police officer, no matter how good he is at law enforcement, is the wrong person to lead it,” she said.
Ms Patten said it was now time for action in the health space on this issue. She said that there needed to be better access to treatment, peer education and more funding for those organisations that deal with the health effects of ice.
“These services are overstretched and underfunded and it is on this front line where the difference will be made,” she said.
The Andrews Labor Government has an Ice Action Plan that is enacting the recommendations of the Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamine in Victoria – a comprehensive report handed down in September of last year by the Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee.
“The Ice Action Plan seems to be heading in the right direction so one would have to ask – why do we need this taskforce in Victoria?” said Ms Patten. “What it doesn’t cover however is drug law reform – and that’s what we desperately need to look at. Portugal is a great example of a jurisdiction which has realised that relying on law enforcement is not the way to go and I have seen first-hand how their reforms have helped tackle the drug problem through new ways of thinking.
“We need reform – not enforcement,” concluded Ms Patten