Community session to be held in Ballarat to discuss ice, drug problems

BALLARAT will host a community session providing residents with information on how they can reduce the impact the drug ice is having in the city.

This comes after Western Victoria MP Simon Ramsay highlighted the possibility of the return to Ballarat of the State Parliament Methamphetamine Inquiry,  which he chairs.

However, speaking to The Courier yesterday, Mr Ramsay said there didn’t appear to be a strong call for the inquiry to return to the city. 

The inquiry sat in Ballarat in November and heard from community groups, health workers and users about the devastating toll the drug has taken.

Next week’s information session by the Department of Justice and Victoria Police will be facilitated by independent health organisation Anex, which has held similar sessions at other regional centres in Victoria. 

A speaker at the next week’s session and an expert on the drug, Crios O’Mahony, said Ballarat was not alone in the issues it faced with the drug.

“My experience talking to communities right across the state, and our research, suggests the issue is widespread,” he said. 

“I wouldn’t expect Ballarat to be any worse than other areas, or having any less use of it.

“It’s a society-wide phenomenon, from top-level professionals to manual labourers and the unemployed.”

Mr O’Mahony said the sessions would provide accurate information on the drug and the many myths that circulate about it.

“It’s a complex issue, no doubt, but there are ways to describe some of the hows and whys of methamphetamine use in a way that all community members can understand,” he said.

“An informed public is a more capable public.

“It’s not a simple lock-them-up solution, and people tend to understand that once they realise how methamphetamine works on the brain.”

Sessions in other cities have attracted more than 500 community members. 

“It’s aimed at the community so it’s an overview of ice, what it is, how it works on the brain, some of the signs, some of the reasons people use it, what to do when things start going wrong, where to get help,” Mr O’Mahony said. 

“The fact is, communities need to work together, develop partnerships and get consistent key messages across the community. 

“Such as, it’s OK to look for help, there are supports available.”

The session will be held on March 26 at 6.30pm at the Geoffrey Blainey Auditorium at Federation University’s Mt Helen Campus.

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