THE Rochester and Elmore Ice Action Group has stepped up its campaign against the social damage ice is causing in the region.
It has secured a $40,000 funding injection from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) to deliver four community-based workshops targeting the scourge of the drug.
To be held in Rochester, Elmore, Lockington and Nanneella, the workshops hope to unite the populations in each location to develop community based ice action plans.
Action group chair and Rochester and District Health Service chief executive Anne McEvoy said to be successful it has to be a collective community effort.
“Each community needs to agree on what it can do about ice,” Mrs McEvoy said.
“These sessions will give community members a voice and a chance to work with agencies and services to create a plan of action that will have outcomes.”
Action group member and Rochester Police Sergeant Dale Simm said the workshops will encourage the whole community to be involved in the project.
“Often the locals know more about what is going on and it ensures solutions are developed specific to each community,” Sgt Simm said.
Working for the past two years the group incorporates members from a variety of affected community groups including REDHS, Elmore Primary Health, police, Rochester Business Network, Rochester Lions Club, Rochester Secondary College, Rochester Community House, La Trobe University, Rochester Drug and Alcohol Peer Support Group, Rochester Football Netball Club, Neami National, Bendigo Health and Campaspe News.
The group has been further prompted by the release of a new report demonstrating how severe the ice problem is in regional Victoria.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) first National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program Report showed areas such as Campaspe Shire have a record one hit per 11 people every day, compared to Australia’s average daily ice consumption of one per 28 people.
The unprecedented report showed consumption of the methyl-amphetamine based drug is at an all-time high, with Australia now the world’s second largest user of ice.
Campaspe Criminal Investigation Unit’s Detective Sergeant Brendon Murphy said regional Victoria’s figures, which equated to about 10 per cent of people using ice, seemed unbelievably high.
‘‘Statistically regional/rural communities would possibly have higher percentage rates of usage because the base numbers of each community are naturally smaller and percentage of user usage would be a naturally higher percentage, ’’ he said.
‘‘Ice is bad in all our communities, such as Rochester, Elmore and Echuca, it is bad everywhere – no less, not really worse. It’s on a par with other, smaller, communities, and it’s bad.’’
But he added it was ice’s collateral damage which was impacting the whole community, driving up the crime rate and contributing to family and street violence.
‘‘Ice users are often very erratic and violent in their behaviours but the drug’s traffickers are ruthless, exploiting individuals, motivated towards greed and having no regard for the damage they cause,” he added.
The Campaspe News will keep readers informed – in the paper and online – about the group’s plans.