NSW residents are being reminded to lodge submissions to the state’s Special Commission of Inquiry into the drug crystal methamphetamine, with only one week remaining to do so
The deadline approaches as the Commission visited Wagga Wagga on Tuesday to consult with local drug treatment and support services and members of the community.
The Commissioner, Professor Dan Howard, visited the Calvary Riverina Drug and Alcohol Centre to hear first-hand about drug treatment programs and the impacts of crystal methamphetamine and other illicit amphetamine-type stimulants in the region.
Prof Howard also visited Pathways Murrumbidgee, a partnership between Directions Health Services and The Noffs Foundation, which provides drug-support services, before holding a private meeting with local Indigenous stakeholders.
Prof Howard said Wagga Wagga is among the regional communities particularly affected by use of crystal methamphetamine and other illegal amphetamine-type stimulants.
“One of the Commission’s tasks is to inquire into the prevalence and impacts of these drugs,” Prof Howard said.
“Data shows that more people are using methamphetamine in regional NSW than in Sydney. It is important that the Commission hears directly from people in our regions about the impacts of crystal methamphetamine, the availability of services and strategies to reduce harm to individuals and communities.”
Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that in 2018, Wagga Wagga had a higher rate per 100,000 people of possession and/or use of amphetamines, compared with the NSW average (143.6 vs 90.7), and yet slightly lower rates than the NSW average of methamphetamine-related hospitalisations (131.9 vs 136.3).
Prof Howard said crystal methamphetamine and other amphetamine-type stimulants are having an enormous impact across society.
“In order to understand the profound effects these drugs can have on individuals, families and the wider community, it is important the Commission hears from people with lived experience of crystal methamphetamine and ATS use, and who have relevant insights into the issues being considered by the Inquiry,” he said.
“The public can provide feedback to the Inquiry publicly or anonymously but the window to lodge a submission closes in a week’s time so I encourage those interested to go the website,” Professor Howard said today.
The Commission was established by the NSW Government to inquire into:
- The nature, prevalence and impacts of the drug crystal methamphetamine – also known as ‘ice’ – and other illicit amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in NSW;
- The adequacy of current measures to target ‘ice’ and other illicit ATS; and
- Options to strengthen NSW’s response, including law enforcement, education, treatment and rehabilitation responses.
In February the scope of the Inquiry was extended to cover other illicit ATSs in addition to crystal methamphetamine, such as MDMA, and the Commissioner was granted enhanced powers to obtain evidence.
The Special Commission of Inquiry is holding hearings between April and August this year, in Sydney and five regional areas of NSW where crystal methamphetamine has had a particularly harmful effect. These include Lismore, Dubbo, Nowra, East Maitland and Broken Hill.
In March, the Commissioner released four Issues Papers on key concerns relating to the use, prevalence and impact of crystal methamphetamine and other illicit ATS. They also examine the effectiveness of current policy and legal responses to harm caused by these drugs that will be investigated by the Inquiry.
The Commissioner invites people and organisations to make submissions in response to questions raised in the Issues Papers, or to share information, experiences or views relevant to the Inquiry generally.
Submissions are open until Tuesday May 7, 2019. For more information, and to access the Issues Papers go to https://www.iceinquiry.nsw.gov.au/.
The Commission will hand down its findings by the end of 2019.