Macarthur Ice Summit starts discussion about ice scourge

THE Macarthur region kickstarted a crucial “conversation” about the impacts of the drug ice on the wider community at the Macarthur Ice Summit at Wests Leagues Club today.

Almost 150 people joined in a lively discussion with panellists St Vincent’s Hospital director of emergency Prof Gordian Fulde, Camden local area commander Supt Ward Hanson, Odyssey House chief operating officer Margaret Noonan, Macarthur Law Society president Brett McGrath, Benevolent Society community programs manager Mark Pulford, Campbelltown Hospital’s Dr Andrew McDonald and former Campbelltown Citizen of the Year and community advocate Jan Nicoll.

The audience included Camden state Liberal MP Chris Patterson, Campbelltown state Labor MP Greg Warren, Macquarie Fields state Labor MP Anoulack Chanthivong, Campbelltown Mayor Paul Hawker, Camden Council general manager Ron Moore and senior executive staff and councillors from Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly councils.

A myriad of drug, alcohol and mental health services, NSW Police Force, NSW Ambulance and TAFE were also represented.

But much of the audience comprised people whose lives have been ‘touched by ice.

One woman shared the heartbreaking “loss” of her son to ice, while another, a former heroin addict, said there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Macarthur federal Liberal MP Russell Matheson, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes with a professional interest in the ice crisis, will take ideas from the summit to draft a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement’s inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice).

He is the chair of the committee and travelled around Australia discussing the ice issue.

Dr Fulde said the first steps to combating addiction to ice were removing the shame and ensuring the person knew they were not alone.

Mrs Nicoll and Dr McDonald emphasised the fight against ice needed to start at the grassroots.

Dr Fulde endorsed the summit with a “brilliant”.

Macarthur federal Liberal MP Russell Matheson will take ideas raised at the Macarthur Ice Summit to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement’s inquiry into ice to help address the increasing presence of the drug in the region.

As chair of the committee, Mr Matheson meets with communities across Australia to discuss the growing ice problem, as crystal methamphetamine has been identified as Australians’ No.1 drug of choice.

“There’s no silver bullet,” Mr Matheson said. “We really need to work on other structures that we can put in place, and look at what funding is available.

“We can see that it starts at an early age.”

Mr Matheson said he was impressed with the turnout to the summit on Friday.

“No-one is immune to ice or its impact. Ice doesn’t discriminate.”

Friday’s audience was encouraged to provide feedback on what they believed needed to be done to address the ice issue in the Macarthur region.

Financial, education and welfare support were listed as the priorities for the government to focus on to assist the growing ice problem.

Drug use, Macarthur Law Society, Macarthur Region

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