Special Commission of Inquiry into Drug 'Ice' to hold public hearing in Moree

Health and youth workers and legal professionals will be among those to provide evidence about the impacts of the drug ice in the Moree Plains Shire during a public hearing this week.

Moree Plains Local Government Area has the fourth-highest rate of possession and/or use of amphetamines in NSW, according to the latest figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

The figures show possession and/or use of the drug in the Moree Plains LGA is almost three times the state average, with 267.6 people using or in possession of it per 100,000, compared to the NSW average of 92.1.

As a result, Moree is one of six regional locations chosen for public hearings as part of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug 'Ice'.

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The Moree hearing will be held at Moree Court House this Thursday, August 15 and Friday, August 16 to gather evidence about crystal methamphetamine use in the region.

A particular focus of the hearing will be the impacts on children and young people and Indigenous communities, as well as access to treatment and support services in the region. The hearing will also look into the impacts on local police, and social and rehabilitation support services, and the opportunities to improve the response to and management of crystal methamphetamine and other illicit amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) use in the Moree Local Government Area.

Individuals and organisations in Moree which deal with the impacts of the drug, particularly on young people and families, will provide evidence during the hearing, including representatives from the Department of Communities and Justice and Aboriginal Legal Service, as well as drug and alcohol service providers and rehabilitation workers.

The Special Commission was established by the state government to inquire into the nature, prevalence and impacts of crystal methamphetamine and other illicit ATS in NSW.

It will also look at the adequacy of current measures to target illicit ATS and options to strengthen the state's response, including law enforcement, education, treatment and rehabilitation options.

The Commissioner, Professor Dan Howard SC, said data shows that people in remote and very remote areas are two and a half times more likely to use meth/amphetamines than those in major cities.

"The Commission wants to hear directly from witnesses about what is driving this drug use, the impacts of that use, and the strategies, services and community-led initiatives that might improve outcomes for the people of Moree," he said.

Professor Howard said while the underlying drivers that lead people to use ATS are complex, it is known that problematic drug use is often rooted in social disadvantage, including poverty, unemployment, personal hardship and homelessness.

NSW Health data shows that the rate of methamphetamine-related hospitalisations in the Hunter New England Local Health District was 159 per 100,000 people in 2016-17, compared with the state average of 136.3 per 100,000 people.

The Special Commission has also held public hearings in Sydney, Lismore, Nowra, Dubbo, East Maitland and Broken Hill.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Moree hearing, which will be live streamed at www.iceinquiry.nsw.gov.au/hearings.

If you need drug and alcohol support, contact the national 24/7 Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline on 1800 250 015, Counselling Online at counsellingonline.org.au, or Maayu Mali on (02) 6752 5036.