The shocking revelation behind the ice addiction crisis
THE harsh reality of under-age drug addiction in the electorate was brought home to Capricornia MP Michelle Landry during a visit to the Salvation Army centre in North Rockhampton this week.
While announcing an $8,000 grant for a new freezer and smart whiteboard for the centre, Ms Landry was told by a centre worker that they had been dealing with children as young as 11 years old who were presenting with addiction to methamphetimines (ice).
According to figures from the Minister of Child Safety Dianne Farmer, of the 93 children under the care of child protection services in Rockhampton, 44 are as a result of ice using parents.
The revelation brought to light areas not being catered for by drug treatment and prevention facilities in Central Queensland, including a lack of facilities for minors for in-house drug rehabilitation.
Judy Dash from the Salvation Army said the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) program was treating an increasing number of adolescent hard drug users and she had noticed the trend affecting younger children.
The program has been running for two years and helps drug users and their families deal with issues related to drug abuse.
"We have seen children with ice addiction first hand," Ms Dash said
"Eleven is one of the youngest we have seen. ."
Ms Landry said she was appalled to hear the magnitude of young Central Queenslanders addicted to ice in her electorate and said the problem often started with the parents.
"During this role, I've seen so many sad things. Some of this does come back to the parents, we see women who are pregnant, drinking heavily and taking ice.
"I worry about what is going to happen in the next ten to fifteen years."
Ms Landry acknowledged there was room for improvement in treating drug abuse and identifying where the issues stemmed from.
"It's not (the kids') fault - we need some major programs about what these parents are actually doing to these children.
"The Health Minister and I have had serious conversations about it and one of the important things I think is lacking is facilities available or children.
She said under-aged drug users were simply not catered for in existing drug rehabilitation or treatment services and that a lot of the mental health and drug rehabilitation facilities in Rockhampton were for people over 18.
"I've had parents contact me saying they can't get into mental health facilities ... I've talked to Mr Hunt about expanding these services.
"The State Government had made an announcement during the election that they were building an ice rehabilitation centre and I thought it was to include children but it's not - it's for adults only."
Last year Keppel MP Brittany Lauga committed $14.3million for a 42-bed residential drug rehabilitation and treatment facility in Rockhampton.
Construction is expected to begin early in 2020.
Program manager at the Primary Health Network, Mustafa Elkhishin confirmed there were no residential drug rehabilitation centres in Central Queensland, including Labor's proposed ice rehabilitation centre, that catered for people under the age of 18.
He also believed the case of 11-year-olds presenting to the Salvation Army was most likely not representative of a large scale community issue.
Ms Lauga confirmed there would be no residential care for minors in the new centre but outpatient programs would be available for minors facing drug issues.
"It would not be appropriate for minors to receive care in a residential facility," she said.
Ms Lauga would not confirm where the rehabilitation centre was located, but acknowledged steps were being taken towards a site.
State minister for Child safety, Dianne Farmer described the disturbing of parental ice usage in Rockhampton and said the issue needs to be addressed.
"The State Government recognises that ice is a major issue for many families in Central Queensland," she said.
"Combating drug addiction and the affect it has on children in this region is one of our number one priorities.
"Almost one-in-two children known to Child Safety Officers in Rockhampton (47.3 per cent) had a parent using ice.
If you or someone you know are affected by drug abuse issues you can seek help at the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 177 833.
If this story has raised any particular issues for you or anyone you know please contact Lifeline at 131 114.