New report supports ice treatment over policing

shadowA report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on Australia’s ice problem has recommended greater support for treatment and early intervention services. It urges the federal government to adopt policies that reduce harm in the community rather than focus on stronger policing.

The report, released on Tuesday, was co-authored by Vernon White and ASPI senior analyst John Coyne. Mr White is a Canadian senator and former police chief in the capital of Ottawa. In an interview with ABC Radio, Mr White said he believes the Australian government is currently too focused on treating ice as a law enforcement issue and argues for greater funding for prevention programs.

“This may include early intervention models within your high schools to try to identify with young people,” he said.

“If they’re going to be involved in something, they need to know what the impact is.”

During his time as police chief, Mr White spearheaded an initiative that focused on harm reduction for young people. Six million dollars was raised to open two drug treatment centres and assign a drug counsellor to every high school in the city. This saw a reduction in street crime by nearly 40 per cent within two-and-a-half years.

Under the former Abbott government, funding for treatment services was cut while a million dollars was spent on a ‘dob-in-a-dealer’ hotline.  A consequence of this is that thousands of Australians seeking vital rehabilitation programs are being turned away.

“Talking to residential treatment providers across the country in the past two months, they’re all telling me the same thing: there’s a four-month wait-list at least,” Mr White said.

“The impact of ice on your brain and the impact on the community are not being helped by having someone wait four months to get into residential treatment.”

Crosslight examined the severity of ice in the Australian community and pathways to rehabilitation in its October feature. It featured an interview with Sarah, a mother of two and former ice addict, who discussed her road to recovery.

The National Ice Taskforce is expected to release its report to Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull in the coming weeks. According to the Courier Mail, the taskforce will recommend greater access to drug treatment services, a national drug education campaign and more early intervention resources.

If you or someone you know is seeking drug and alcohol addiction treatment options, contact UnitingCare ReGen on 1800 700 514.

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