Local pollies vow to break through CQ's ice addiction
MANY in the CQ community would like to see our local politicians doing more to tackle the scourge of the drug 'ice' head-on.
After witnessing how the drug had wrecked the lives of many local residents and their families, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke were intent on targeting the ice addiction problem.
"There are too many families torn apart by this insidious drug," Mrs Lauga said.
"I am determined to work with justice, health and education workers, individuals and families affected to reduce the impact of ice on our community."
Mrs Lauga said her government had allocated of an extra $43 million over the next five years to increase access to specialist clinics and other support services by the non-government sector.
These additional funds were set to be invested across the full spectrum of responses, including community-based counselling, non-residential rehabilitation, pre-and post-treatment support such as withdrawal management in residential rehabilitation, specialist peer support for families and flexible modes for counselling.
The Queensland Government was in the midst of finalising their Action on Ice plan after an extensive community consultation process which began at the Ice Regional Community Engagement Summit in Rockhampton in April last year and was followed by round-tables and forums across the state.
The consultation brought together experts and those working on the frontline, as well as those living with ice as users or their family or loved ones.
Mrs Lauga said a number of general themes emerged during the community consultation process.
They included a need to create improved awareness on the symptoms and impacts of ice use and developing a reliable and trusted information source on how to support people affected by ice and other substances.
People wanted to know how and where to access help and sought enhanced access and increased funding for, effective, flexible and culturally appropriate treatment, recovery and support services for individuals and families.
Community members supported making changes to the criminal justice system including the decriminalisation of ice use, tougher penalties for ice suppliers and drug diversion options for those people charged with ice-related offences.
There was a recognised need for an increased availability and accessibility of culturally appropriate responses to ice abuse.
As a result of the consultation, a comprehensive draft Action on Ice plan was developed containing 65 proposed actions which aim to complement the National Ice Strategy.
She said community input focussed on how existing actions can be better implemented in regional and rural areas of the state, explored potential gaps in service delivery and recommended how those gaps can be addressed.
The final plan will include implementation arrangements for the Government's election commitment to provide $14.3 million over three years for a 42-bed residential drug rehabilitation and treatment facility in Rockhampton.
The funding for the facility was allocated as a consequence of Mrs Lauga's concerted advocacy on behalf of local ice-affected families and health experts.
"Planning for the project will commence in early 2018 to determine the location and timing for the construction of the facility," she said in December last year.
Mr O'Rourke said Rockhampton's ice treatment facility promised during the state election campaign would be part of the action plan to be considered by Cabinet next month.
"Ice is a major issue for communities across Queensland, and I know the Premier has met with members of our community and knows the importance of working together to tackle this issue," Mr O'Rourke said.
"The election commitment by the Palaszczuk Government will step up its response to the growing challenge of ice (crystal methamphetamine) with $14.3m for a new 42-bed residential drug rehabilitation and treatment facility in Rockhampton.
"The facility will comprise 32 beds for residential rehabilitation, eight beds for withdrawal stage treatment, two family units, and capacity for non-residential day programs."
Mr O'Rourke said this funding also included $1.1 million in funding over four years to Drug ARM to provide additional drug and alcohol treatment in Central Queensland.
"There is a clear need for support to address this issue in Central Queensland, and we are committed to delivering this by constructing this much-needed facility," he said.
"The funding would give Rockhampton residents improved access to vital drug treatment services and support. While our government will provide the funding for the facility, it will be run by a non-government organisation similar to other alcohol and drug services and mental health facilities across Queensland.
"It is good to have facilities like these to offer people in Central Queensland who are struggling with addiction issues the practical support they need to progress their recovery."