A COMMUNITY forum about ways to combat the drug ice will be held in Sale on March 2.
Attendees will hear from locals, experts and law enforcement.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the forum was one of 19 that would take place across the state by mid-April.
“If we want to stop this drug then we have to hear from locals, because they know our community the best,” Ms Shing said.
“We need to get to the heart of the problem and listen to the people who see the effects of this tragedy every single day.”
The Coroners Court of Victoria found deaths where methamphetamine was present increased from 66 in 2006 to 166 in 2013. Ice was linked to 32 murder investigations in Victoria between 2012 and 2013.
Ms Shing said the Labor government had established an Ice Action Taskforce to examine ways to reduce the demand, supply and harm of the drug and produce an Ice Action Plan.
The ice intervention also included $15 million for new drug and booze buses and $500,000 to help set up grassroots action groups across regional Victoria.
Eastern Victoria MLC Danny O’Brien also welcomed the forum.
He said the Sale forum was one of a number of workshops planned by the former Coalition government for regional towns.
“Today I hear the forum will go ahead and I encourage community members, sporting clubs and anyone involved in education, local government, health and community development to go along and listen to the information provided by experts in drug prevention and treatment,” Mr O’Brien said.
“We know there has been a rise in the use of ice in regional communities and that people in the Wellington Shire are becoming increasingly concerned about the use of the drug and its harmful effect on our community.”
Mr O’Brien said the forum would provide an opportunity for people to hear how to manage a person they believe may be using drugs as well as how to tackle ice, alcohol and other drugs in the community.
“Ice has been wreaking a path of destruction through regional Victoria destroying relationships, health and lives. We’ve all heard horror stories from families, police, magistrates and health workers about the devastation this drug has been causing,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Sale is like any other regional town in Victoria; it is grappling with the growth in abuse of this drug and the consequences that often go with it. I am sure there are many groups and individuals that would benefit from hearing from the experts about ways to manage the problem.”
The government has indicated four new offences will be introduced, including penalties for trafficking ice to school students, publishing instructions to manufacture ice and allowing the use of premises for manufacturing and trafficking.
Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said regional communities had joined forces to confront the drug epidemic and get young people back on track.
“We’ll confront this crisis on our streets and at its source, and find solutions that make our communities safer.”
“We take the ice epidemic confronting Victoria very seriously,” he said.
“This drug is killing Victorians, ruining lives and destroying families.
“The Andrews Labor Government is determined to tackle this scourge across the state.”
Australia Drug Foundation chief executive John Rogerson said they had already received a positive response from the first round of forums.
“They are important for the community and I am pleased that the remaining events will go ahead,” he said.
The Good Sports forums, organised by the Australian Drug Foundation, brings together sports club administrators and people involved in education, local government, health and youth services.
The forum will be held at Sale Baptist Church, Princes Highway, Sale, on Monday, March 2, from 6pm to 8.30pm.
More information about the forums can be found at www.goodsports.com.au/tackletheissue/forums/