10th Dec 2015

Commitment to combat ‘ice’ addiction brings hope to disadvantaged communities

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement to invest $300 million to adopt recommendations made by the National ‘Ice’ Taskforce to tackle ‘ice’ addiction.

Recommendations address key concerns raised in Congress’ submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Inquiry into Crystal Methamphetamine.

“The commitment to achieve a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to prevention with a focus on vulnerable populations including Aboriginal communities is a welcome outcome,” said Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee.

“Congress would especially like to acknowledge the leadership role played by the Minister for Rural Health, the Hon Fiona Nash, who travelled extensively around the country for many of the community consultation forums and listened carefully to what the community had to say,” she continued.

“Congress has advocated that ‘Ice’ use in the Aboriginal community should be approached primarily as a health issue and not primarily as a criminal justice or law enforcement problem and this has been strongly supported by the Prime Minister who clearly stated that ‘we cannot arrest our way out of this problem’.

“Congress agrees that a commitment to better data, investment in longer funding periods to strengthen service planning and workforce development, and investment in further developing existing alcohol and other drug treatment services are essential steps in the process to tackle ‘ice’ use in our community, while at the same time strengthening treatment services for all drugs including alcohol.

“Biological foundations and social determinants of addiction are the same regardless of choice of drug and as such, treatment and primary prevention for all addiction requires a common approach.

“For this reason, it is good news that the key recommendation to refrain from the establishment of a separate, standalone treatment sector for the treatment of ‘Ice’ use only, has been accepted as well.

“The government’s promise to work in partnership with communities to enhance the roll-out of evidence based parenting and early childhood programs aimed at developing resilience in young children, particularly in disadvantaged communities, is another welcome priority area.

“Congress has advocated for adequate investment in evidence-based early childhood programs as key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of harmful drug and other substance use in the long-term,” concluded Ms Ah Chee.

Media contact: Emily MacKenzie 0408 741 691