CANBERRA – The Turnbull Government is getting down to the grass roots level in response to the national ice "epidemic” as it’s revealed the demand for drug and alcohol treatment places in Australia is double what’s available.
Fiona Nash, the Minister in charge of drug and alcohol policy, has announced the Government will preemptively tackle the methamphetamine scourge by granting local communities and sporting clubs an extra $39.72 million over four years.
As part of the plan, $19.2 million will go to 220 local community drug action teams to provide preventative education like holding forums, while the Good Sports program, run by the Australian Drug Foundation, will receive an extra $4.6 million over four years to add an anti-ice message to its binge alcohol warnings.
The measures are a response the National Ice Taskforce, announced in April, which will have its final report unveiled Sunday by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Early responses included a "Dob in a Dealer" national phone hotline and an "ice ruins lives" education campaign.
Taskforce head and former Victorian Police commissioner Ken Lay has been in charge of coordinating local, state and federal efforts against the addictive illicit drug.
The latest response comes as a leaked National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) report has found that the number of Australians needing drug and alcohol treatment is more than double the number of spaces available.
About 200,000 people are treated for alcohol and drug problems each year, but the government-commissioned NDARC report found, “the number of people in any one year who need and would seek treatment is conservatively estimated to be between 200,000 and 500,000 over and above those in treatment.”
The National Ice Taskforce is set to recommend governments invest more money in treatment and rehabilitation services.
Nash said Australia can no longer try to "arrest our way out of the ice problem" and more needs to be done to reduce demand for the drug.