UnitingCare ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis has welcomed the federal government’s response to the National Ice Taskforce report.
The taskforce was established in April this year by then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott to advise the federal government on a National Ice Strategy.
According to the report, there are currently more than 200,000 ice users in Australia.
The report recommends greater government action on decreasing demand for ice and reducing harm for users, while enhancing efforts to disrupt supply in key areas.
“Our first priority must be supporting families, workers and communities to better respond to people affected by ice,” the report said.
“We must balance our efforts in law enforcement with action to curtail the demand for ice.
“This means reducing the number of ice users by providing effective support to help current users quit and preventing people from starting to use the drug through well-designed and targeted prevention activities.”
The federal government agreed to adopt all 38 recommendations outlined in the report. This marks a shift from the law enforcement approached adopted by the Abbott government to a strategy that prioritises treatment and prevention.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the federal government will commit $300 million of new funding throughout the next four years. Most of the money will be invested in treatment services, with a particular emphasis on rural and Indigenous communities.
UnitingCare ReGen is one of the leading alcohol and drug treatment and education agencies in Victoria. It was recently recognised with a 2015 Victorian Healthcare Award for its targeted methamphetamine treatment programs.
CEO Laurence Alvis said the announcement is a big step forward in achieving a co-ordinated, evidence-based approach to tackling the harms associated with methamphetamine use.
“The broad range of measures included in the government’s response are an encouraging sign that our policy makers recognise the importance of achieving the right balance of measures within our overarching Harm Minimisation framework,” he said.
“There is no quick fix and no one-size-fits-all approach. We need an effective set of policy measures to reduce the supply of, demand for and harms associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.”
Mr Alvis welcomed the additional funding, which will increase the availability of treatment and support services to individuals and families.
“It is particularly encouraging to see the government’s recognition of the need for investment in the alcohol and other drug workforce and the importance of ongoing evidence to inform future policy and practice,” he said.
“While the impacts of methamphetamine use are a particular cause of current concern, patterns of drug consumption (and related harms) are always changing and our workforce needs to have the skills and the capacity to respond to new and emerging issues in the future.
“We look forward to seeing more detail about just how the new treatment services will be implemented and hope that they will make it significantly easier for people to get help – when and where they need it.”