ICE CORRIDOR: Gympie a hotspot for parental meth abuse
TROUBLING figures released by the State Government today have provided a damning look at the state of methamphetaime and ice abuse in the Gympie and Wide Bay regions.
The data, which has been compiled quarterly state-wide has highlighted a number of areas given the label 'ice corridors', including Gympie, Bundaberg and Maryborough.
The statistics reveal children in homes where parents are using the deadly drug are at a greatly increased risk, and according to Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman 60 percent of children with a parent using ice are under 5 years of age.
"The new child safety figures are deeply disturbing and demonstrate the damaging impact of ice on communities right across the state,” she says.
"It's especially concerning to me that so many children whose parents were using ice were so young.”
34 percent of all parental ice abuse in Queensland could be attributed to three regions.
They are Rockhampton to Aitkenvale (including Townsville and Emerald), Springfield to Mount Gravatt in South Brisbane and Gympie, Maryborough and Bundaberg.
The Gold Coast, Ipswich and Brisbane North were also hotspots, collectively being responsible for 40% of all cases in the state.
Ice use in family homes often correlates with a number of other factors, including a criminal history, mental illness and a trend of domestic and family violence.
Consequently, children in these environments are at an elevated risk of neglect and physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse.
"This is why it is so important to continue that message about everyone in the community having a role to play to keep our kids safe,” Ms Fentiman says.
Progress, particularly relating to child protective services can be slow, but there are encouraging signs.
The time of investigations being commenced and finalised is becoming shorter, with common complaints of a slow-moving and obtuse system often being difficult to navigate.
"The data showed the percentage of investigations that required a 24-hour response finalised within 60-days was 74 percent,” Ms Fentiman says.
"This shows the investment we are making to restore front-line staff and services is starting to have an impact on the workload of our hard-working child safety workers.”