ICE-users stealing money from their families is contributing to increased homelessness in the Ballarat region, welfare groups say.
UnitingCare welfare worker Naomi Bailey said fractured families have been presenting to the organisation as a result of drug use by a relative.
“There’s been a lot more in everyday relief to people that have family members that have been using and quite often stealing money,” she said.
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“We’re not generally assisting the user ... it’s the family members that experience hardship because of it.”
UnitingCare Ballarat alcohol and other drug program manager Peter Cranage said the violence associated with ice “can rip families apart”.
“All drugs can cause homelessness, but ice can push the envelope a bit higher,” he said.
“It causes a change in people as well. Quite often you hear people were quite kind-hearted and as soon as they got on the ice they were completely different.”
Ice presently ranks third in UnitingCare’s drug-related cases, behind alcohol and cannabis, according to Mr Cranage, who said it was a different story six months ago.
“People are still using ice but not accessing our services, that doesn’t mean that won’t change in a couple of months,” he said.
“All drugs can cause homelessness, but ice can push the envelope a bit higher."
Peter Caligari, 3BA Christmas in July Appeal director, said there was a link between ice and homelessness.
“It then tends to lead to the next step, which is domestic violence,” he said.
Mr Caligari said the problem of homelessness was “growing and growing substantially”.
“More and more families are making the difficult decision to walk through the doors and say ‘we need help, we are desperate’,” he said.
“The hardship being faced at the present time is at a level most people would find it impossible to imagine.”
Ms Bailey said cases of homelessness for UnitingCare had increased by about 15 per cent this year.
“There are a lot of people who are on the cusp of being homeless with the cost of living being high and affordable housing extremely limited,” she said.
Mr Caligari’s Christmas in July appeal has so far brought in four pallets of food and countless blankets.
The appeal hopes to give $200,000 worth of cash and food to local welfare agencies throughout the year, he said.