‘Ice’ the First Priority for Government’s Reshaped Drugs and Alcohol Council

The Australian Government has tasked its reshaped advisory council on drugs and alcohol to examine as a priority the issues facing Australia from methamphetamine use, and in particular the rising use of the drug ice.

“Tackling the growing ice problem is a major priority for the Government and as a first step I will be asking our advisory council to look at this issue as their first work priority," Senator Matthew Canavan said today.

“We are responding to community concerns and evidence on the ground that ice is causing widespread devastation and destruction, particularly affecting young people.

“It’s destroying families, children and communities across Queensland – we want this to stop,” Senator Canavan said.

“I travelled to north-west Queensland in November and heard firsthand how ice is devastating communities. Ice has swiftly emerged as a drug of mass destruction and I applaud the government for promptly responding to the threat."

Senator Canavan said that new data released by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (20/10/14) show, amongst all those who used methamphetamine, there was an increase in the use of ice (or crystal methamphetamine) from 22 per cent in 2010 to 50 per cent  in 2013. This is of significant concern.

"Australia needs to be able to respond effectively to the drug and alcohol issues facing the community and particularly to new risks posed by drugs like ice,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash recently announced that the Australian National Council on Drugs will be renamed as the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (ANACAD) which recognises the advisory Council’s focus on alcohol as well as drugs.

“ANACAD’s key role will be to provide advice to the Government on a range of national drug and alcohol issues, including advice on emerging issues and new substances, to ensure the Government is well placed to respond.

“The newly constituted ANACAD will be chaired by Ms Kay Hull and backed by a membership of esteemed experts in the drug and alcohol fields,” said Minister Nash

Ms Hull was Chair of the Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs Inquiry into substance abuse in Australian communities which delivered the Road to Recovery report in 2003, and she is a well- respected community leader who understands community expectations across Australia.

Other members of the advisory Council are all experts from a wide range of areas relating to drug and alcohol, including health, justice, Indigenous, mental health, research and policy and I thank them all for agreeing to be on this important advisory Council. 

Senator Canavan said the Government recognises the impacts that drug and alcohol misuse can have on Indigenous communities. Acknowledging this, Associate Professor Ted Wilkes has been appointed to a newly created position on the Council as Principal Adviser on Indigenous drug and alcohol matters.

ANACAD will report directly to the Minister responsible for drugs and alcohol policy within the Health portfolio, Fiona Nash, and be a valuable advisory resource to other ministers including the Ministers for Justice, Indigenous Affairs, Education and Immigration and Border Protection. This broader advisory role will be the first time the Council has had the ability to directly give advice to all relevant Commonwealth Ministers.  
"This will ensure that tackling drug and alcohol problems in the community will be a coordinated effort," Senator Canavan said.

“Ice requires a whole of government response, and the ANACAD will play an important part in the Coalition Government’s commitment to delivering a safer and more secure nation,” Senator Canavan said.

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