Strategies to tackle Ice use can't remain frozen in time
Australia cannot simply “police our way out” problematic methamphetamine use and “more money needs to be spent on treatment and prevention.”
The taskforce, announced early this week has been set up to review how the states are responding to Ice use locally and ‘identify ways to take a systematic, comprehensive and coordinated approach to education, health and law enforcement.’
The taskforce will be headed by Victoria's former police commissioner Ken Lay who'll work with Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash.
If this all sounds a little bit familiar, that’s because it is.
The Abbot Government’s announcement has come just one month after the Andrews government published their own ‘Ice Action Plan’ compiled in their first 100 days of office by a 16 member Ice action taskforce.
Prior to this the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines in Victoria examined the extent of methamphetamine use in the state and detailed recommendations for treatment and prevention.
Whilst the Victorian Ice action Plan was criticized for a disproportionate emphasis on policing at the expense of treatment and family supports, experts have been quick to caution this taskforce that more is needed.
President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Wodak says “The standard ‘war’ approach involves harsh political rhetoric and generous funding for law enforcement ‘crackdowns’ … but it pays utterly inadequate attention to the demand side of the equation.”
Associate Professor Nicole Lee, told ABC Radio that treatment was more cost-effective in reducing use than policing.
"For every dollar we spend on policing, we get about $2 savings for the community. But for every dollar we put into treatment, we get about $7 saving for the community," she said.
From YoDAA’s perspective, if this taskforce is to truly make an impact on problematic methamphetamine use in Australia, it needs to not just look beyond policing as a solution, but beyond behaviour change in the individual and indeed beyond treatment and education.
Perhaps in reviewing the community harms of methamphetamine use the taskforce will also consider the role communities can play in decreasing methamphetamine demand and stigma associated with seeking help.
Finally, it is our hope the Taskforce are able to review the impact that the Government's own cuts to the homeless sector, youth employment sector and drug and alcohol sector itself, have had on methamphetamine use in Australia.