BREAKING THE ICE:
The scourge of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, has spread like an ugly disease through regional and rural Australian towns.
In its wake it has left significant increases in crime, mental health problems and violence.
Shepparton has not escaped the drug’s horror impact, but a new community-driven group formed under the Victorian Government’s Ice Action Plan is determined to tackle the problem.
Armed with new data released last month, Greater Shepparton’s Local Organisation of Ice Support Group (LOIS) aims to bring home the message that ice is a destructive force in our community.
Data from the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016 indicated methamphetamine users who reported mainly using ice had different demographic characteristics and usage patterns to those who mainly used speed.
People using ice were more likely to live in outer regional, remote and very remote areas (22 per cent) compared with those using speed (6.4 per cent).
People using ice were also more likely to use the drug regularly with 20 per cent using it weekly or more often.
Daily and weekly use of the drug had also increased from 12.4 per cent in 2010 to 32 per cent in 2016.
Shepparton’s LOIS group has been developed through a Victorian Government Ice Action Grant, and now aims to educate the community about the drug as a health and safety issue.
Greater Shepparton City Council community safety officer Joel Board said LOIS developed from a council information session held in March this year and was now run and championed by the community.
‘‘We’ve got a number of people who really feel passionately about the issue of drugs and alcohol and ice in particular,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s really worked well because these people have a huge stake in really looking for a solution and promoting that recovery.’’