New Resource! ‘Alcohol and other drug prevention in the family’

The Australian Drug Foundation “Drug Info” service has published a fact sheet titled “Alcohol and other drug prevention in the family”. The fact sheet provides a plain English overview of best practice alcohol and other drug prevention strategies.  It describes the intersection of risk and protective factors that can increase the risk of a young person developing problems with alcohol and other drugs. Families play a key role in the prevention of problematic substance use, and some key strategies are described in the fact sheet.

Access the resource here

It’s about time we focused on stories of recovery from ice-abuse!

ABC Online: Ice addiction: Let’s stop the scare tactics and tell stories of recovery

ABC Online, 21 Septmber 2015, opinion Sarah MacLean

The fear and alarm around ice is so strong that people feel paralysed.

Alarmist media campaigns have left the impression that ice use is so terrible that nothing can be done about it. But recovery is possible and we must ensure that message is spread, writes Sarah MacLean.

When Peter found out his son was on ice, he was devastated. Everything he’d heard about ice was so frightening that at first he was consumed by a wave of powerlessness. He felt hopeless, that nothing could done to help him.

Peter’s story is not unique. He is one of countless parents across the country grappling with the realities of ice use.

I have spent the past six months speaking with Indigenous people who use or are recovering from ice, and their families, as part of a research project with Mallee District Aboriginal Services in Mildura. Today, I am in Mildura launching a new report that outlines how to tackle ice use in regional towns.

Ice has touched every corner of this country, but Indigenous communities are particularly concerned about the drug, especially in regional centres.

Aboriginal people can be more susceptible to ice use because many suffer disadvantage and have a history of trauma. The community is also dealing with many complex issues, which makes it hard to cope with ice use and ice users.

Regular ice users tell us terrible stories of family breakdown, deteriorating health and increasing social isolation as a result of their drug use. Family members feel overwhelmed when their children or partners get involved with ice and don’t know where to go for help.

Yet the messages that ice users and their families get when they switch on the television are of out-of-control junkies who lash out at loved ones, pick holes in their skin, and terrorise hospital wards.

This may be true for those few people at the most severe spectrum of ice-use, but it’s not helpful for those who struggle with the drug day-to-day. To them, these ads say: you become a monster if you use ice. They reinforce a feeling of inevitability, hopelessness and shame, that this is the ice-user’s fate.

To truly make inroads into the ice problem in our regional centres, we need to offer realistic messages about the effects that ice can have on people’s lives – but also offer hope. The message has to be that people do recover from using ice and that help is available.

The fear and alarm around ice is so strong that families and ice users we spoke with felt paralysed. This fear is fanned by outlaw motorcycle gangs, who are known to use violence and intimidation to keep people using and dealing ice.

And it’s worsened by these alarmist media campaigns that give people a sense that ice use is so terrible that nothing can be done.

Users report intense feelings of shame about their drug use, and they particularly regret things that they have done while affected by ice. This regret puts up a wall for people who want to manage their drug use and access treatment services.

Our report outlines how we should tackle the issue of ice in Indigenous communities in regional Australia.

Our research has shown us that above all else, the most powerful motivation for ice users to stop is mending family relationships. People who stop using say family support is such an important part of getting clean. But for family, caring for an ice user is a hard task and more often than not, a lonely one.

Counselling and support for ice users should be intensive and prolonged, and address shame and regret. Family members need to have the right information about the support available for them while they go through a tough process.

Then there is the issue of distance. Getting access to treatment in the city is complex for people living in regional Australia, and Aboriginal people often don’t like being far away from family. Local day programs offering cultural activities and intensive therapy for families and users in regional centres could overcome these hurdles.

And in addition to positively framed campaigns, education materials need to show that Aboriginal people can stop using ice, telling stories of hope and recovery.

Peter was able to help his son stop using by getting him into a treatment service and taking extra care to support and watch over him. He is proof that people do recover.

We can tackle ice in Indigenous communities but it must be done with respect, good planning, funding for services for users and their families, and most of all compassion.

Dr Sarah MacLean is a sociologist at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Link to story:

Statement from Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash on calls to legalise the drug “ice”:

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Senator the Hon Fiona Nash

Assistant Minister for Health

8 September 2015

“Ice typically contains poisons. Ingredients often include acetone, found in nail polish remover and paint thinner; sulphuric acid as you’d find in drain or toilet cleaner, and lithium, which is used in batteries.

“Ice is a powerful psychoactive stimulant with strong links to violence and depression. It is an amphetamine – not a drug which relaxes or calms people. Ice is not a “soft” drug. After heavy use, the body reduces or ceases making its own serotonin and dopamine – chemicals necessary to feel good. Users often fall into depression and sometimes suicide.

“Ice literally breaks down the neural pathways in the brain. Ice ruins memory, concentration and focus. Ice ruins the health of users. “I’ve met addicts and recovering addicts in the past six months. I’ve looked into their eyes; and I’ve also met their mothers. I could never sleep at night knowing I’d been part of a government that legalised a substance which caused so much physical and mental pain.

“During my recent 25,000 kilometre tour holding community consultations on ice – I’ve now done so in 12 regional communities – police of all ranks have repeatedly told me we can’t arrest our way out of the ice problem. I’ve been open to new suggestions and understand a range of measures are needed. Education is key – we must teach our young people about the dangers of ice. There’s no need to exaggerate the message – the truth is scary enough.

“However, legalising the drug would send the message that ice is not dangerous. This is the wrong message to send. Legalising what is arguably the worst drug Australia has seen is madness. “A Coalition Government will never legalise a drug that destroys brain function, mental wellbeing, general health, employment, relationships, lives and families.”

Media contact:

Les White 0409 805 122

Katherine Child Aware Local Initiative: Update

Since the last meeting of the “Katherine Child Aware Local Initiative”, (CALI), in February 2015, there have been lots of changes and concerns for many organisations and staff due to the significant delays in the announcements and negotiations of contracts under the Federal Government’s “Indigenous Advancement Strategy”. This meant that we all had to focus on very immediate and pressing concerns.

We want to let you know what a few of us, (Bev – Good Beginnings, Liz – The Smith Family, Stella Conroy (Families Australia) & Christine Gibson (Australian Centre for Child Protection) – national CALI partners), have been doing in this space since February so the momentum and all the good work you contributed to is not lost. We also want to see where everyone was and how we could move forward from here with this “community focused initiative”.

You may recall that during that meeting we developed the Katherine CALI Vision Statement – “That the children and youth of Katherine are happy, healthy and safe and have every opportunity for a fulfilling future.”

Towards that goal we have been working within the “Katherine Domestic and Family Violence Reduction Strategy – Safety Is Everyone’s Right – Reference Group” which has been meeting regularly over the past six or so months and achieving great things e.g. contributing to the NT Attorney General’s review of the NT Domestic Violence Act via a submission that outlined the lack of connection between this and the NT Child Protection Act and the need for a “Duty Solicitor” to be available at Katherine Court House to support and advise the victims of Domestic and Family Violence. This has resulted in a community supported and endorsed funding application to the Dept. of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Colleen Gwynne, the new NT Children’s Commissioner, at the invitation of CALI, attended a DV Reference Group meeting on July 27th where she provided an overview of her role and some frightening statistics for the NT.

It was at this junction that Alison Jacks, Project Officer for the Domestic Violence Directorate, communicated that CALI has been identified as an important “Strategic Partner” during the development of the NT Domestic and Family Violence Reduction Strategy. We thought it would be both sensible and expeditious to bring the groups together to better utilise our combined resources and accomplish better outcomes that include a focus on the health, safety and well-being of Katherine’s children and youth.

Now that you are up to date the question is WHERE TO FROM HERE???

We think that one of the important and valuable things we can do is hear what the children and youth of Katherine have to say about themselves and their future and we want to get your feedback on this.

Provide your feedback here

Please answer the questions on the attached document and return these to us ASAP. Stella and Christine have kindly offered to join us for a workshop in Katherine, hopefully during Children’s Week, (19th-23rd October 2015), so we can brainstorm how to get the views of children and young people in an effective and efficient manner.

FREE online Mandatory reporting training for D&FV & Child neglect

The NTG has had for several years FREE online training for Mandatory Reporting for Domestic & Family Violence and Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Neither takes very long to undertake (about 5-10mins) and you get a certificate on completion.

For NTG staff just click on the links below. For non NTG staff please view the instructions for non-government agencies on how to access the online training before registering for this course. 

The Mandatory Reporting of DV online course link is here. 

The Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect course link is here