Harm Reduction Victoria

ICE Taskforce Round Table

by loki on 22/06/2015

ice forum 2015
Unless you have been living on an island in the middle of nowhere  – just past where the hell am I – then chances are you have seen some media attention on the topic of ice aka crystal meth.

Ice is not a new drug, nor is all the targeted media toward it. In fact it’s a major case of de ja vu because we have heard it all before, if you pick up a newspaper from 2007 or again from 2001 you will see exactly the same alarmist headlines that are plastered across our current media.

The Abbott government has remade a graphic 2007 TV advertising campaign designed to combat the ice because research has shown it was successful when it aired eight years ago. I’d like to know who said it was successful the first time around! I’m told that the government conducted its own internal confidential research – which sounds like a cop out to me. But that’s all they need to justify spending another eleven million dollars to re hash exactly the same crappy campaign from 2007. When the 2015 ads are run side by side with the 2007 ones the scenes and the scripts are almost identical.

pipeThe government admits the commercials are remakes of the original ice campaign which ran between 2007 and 2009 and was discontinued six years ago by the Labour Government .

A spokesman for Nash told Guardian Australia the minister had not tried to hide the fact they were remade.

The campaign will feed into the National Ice Taskforce, announced by the prime minister in April.

The advertising campaign is supposed to encourage people to provide feedback to the National Ice Taskforce.

The Taskforce will be the first pillar of the government’s national ice action strategy and will be chaired by the former Victorian police commissioner Ken Lay. Mr Lay commented that the Taskforce was put together to deal with the “growing problem” of ice, the drug that destroys lives, ravages families and damages communities.

Ice crystals“The overall purpose of the taskforce will be to examine all existing efforts to address ice and identify ways to take a systematic, comprehensive and coordinated approach to education, health and law enforcement,” Tony Abbott said. The Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, and the Assistant Health Minister, Fiona Nash, will oversee the government’s response. Keenan said policing was “very important but we also need to find other ways to work with the community, particularly within the health sector to address this issue”.

Nash said ice was destroying people’s lives and leading to disfigurement, mental illness, psychotic behaviour, aggression and violence. “As I travel around the country, particularly rural and regional areas, it’s becoming increasingly obvious the rapid escalation of the use of this drug,” she said.

The National Ice Taskforce is made up of all the usual stakeholders like police and health professionals but consumers are noticeably missing in the line-up. That’s correct – there is no one representing the views of people who actually use the drug! Shame on you, National Taskforce, for failing to reach out to the group most affected by your decisions.

AIVL (the national voice for people who use drugs ) put in a submission to the Taskforce that highlighted the fact that we (the users) wanted a chance to have our say about the issues that affect us. As a result an invitation was issued to all the state and territory drug user organisations to attend a round table discussion where we would be given the chance to express our thoughts on the matter. On Thursday June 11th I, along with 8 other delegates from various drug user orgs across the country found myself sitting at a table talking to the former Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay about what I believe are some of the real issues to do with ice. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he (Ken Lay) was keen to hear what we had to say. He even asked valid questions and appeared open and interested in our opinions. And I’m really pleased to say that once I outed myself as being a current ice user, he remained interested in what I had to say. In my experience, once I disclose my current drug use my cred often flies out the window.
ice on white widthways

Here’s a list of some of the things we had to say;

  • We feel that ‘scare tactics’ in the form of the over the top tv ads that are currently airing do little to prevent uptake and can often result in more people trying the drug.
  • The stigma and discrimination toward people who use ice is exacerbated by the way media portrays the drug and results in people being less likely to seek help when  needed.
  • And we asked him to stop using the word ‘treatment’ because when it comes to ice, there is no treatment as we know it. There is no methadone equivalent.
  • We highlighted the issue that current detox services don’t cater for ice users because the duration of stay is too short and is more suited to heroin detox.
  • Peer education works! We’ve been doing it for a long time now and we have always been inclusive of ice users yet we’ve never been properly funded to do it. (It would have been nice to have some of that $11million)
  • We reminded him that the majority of people using ice are doing so with no major problems and are doing a good job of keeping it hidden (and are probably having better sex and more fun than the rest of us)


I must say that it felt good to be able to have a say for once. Let’s just hope it didn’t fall on deaf ears.



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