By ASHLEIGH BAGSHAW
South Australia’s ice epidemic is an issue that remains at the forefront of 2018 electoral campaigns.
The extent of the problem recently came to light during a manhunt for alleged killer Travis Kirchner in Murray Bridge, with the search of dozens of local properties drawing attention to widespread methamphetamine use in the area.
This incident follows the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program’s findings that Adelaide is now the methamphetamine capital of Australia.
SAThe 2017 results show that around 80 doses of ice are being used per 1000 people a day in the Adelaide region, compared to the national average of 30 doses per 1000 people a day.
The major parties have outlined different approaches to combatting the issue in their respective state election campaigns.
Nick Xenophon’s SA-Best has pushed for mandatory rehabilitation and the establishment of facilities where methamphetamine users would undergo compulsory treatment for their addiction.
“In the event of a hung parliament, a condition for the new government would be to ensure legislation was passed within three months to ensure to establish mandatory rehab and detox facilities for ice users,” Mr Xenophon said.
However, Mr Xenophon said that these facilities alone are insufficient and that a multifaceted approach must be taken toward combatting the epidemic.
“This is a problem which involves implementing a range of measures including providing proper rehab services, proper counselling, diversion of assets from dealers, family support, and ongoing counselling and monitoring of individuals affected by ice.”
The State Government remains on the fence about the benefits of mandated drug treatments and has been reluctant to establish a mandatory rehabilitation scheme.
This means they will take a more cautious approach and will focus on incorporating an Ice Action Plan.
“The State Government is investing $8 million over four years in the ‘Stop the Hurt’ strategy,” said Labor candidate for Hartley Grace Portolesi.
“The strategy will focus on establishing measures to reduce supply, increase treatment and increase family support.”
The Liberal Party have expressed mixed views on mandatory rehabilitation but would support the introduction of mandated drug treatment orders for people under 18.
“A Marshall Liberal Government is committed to winning the war on drugs such as ice through an approach that prioritises prevention and early intervention,” said Liberal candidate for Hartley Vincent Tarzia.
These treatment orders would provide children with residency at a treatment facility for up to 12 months and would allow parents to legally force children to attend drug treatment programs.
Both the Liberal and Labor parties have also discussed plans to trial mandatory rehabilitation programs for adults.
“We will pilot a community-based rehabilitation program in the Riverland, with a view to using this model to address drug abuse in other parts of South Australia,” Mr Tarzia said.
Labor plans to trial a Victorian model of mandatory rehabilitation, while The Greens will focus on implementing a different approach to drug use.
“The individual use of illegal drugs should not fall within the criminal framework, and substance abuse should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal issue,” says Greens candidate for Hartley Lauren Zwaans.
“The Greens believe that drug abuse is a real problem in Australia, but the way we deal with it needs to change.”
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