Dr Stephen Priestley
Dr Stephen Priestley

Ice in Gympie workshop to link methamphetamine experts

AVAILABLE on social media, more dangerous than heroin and easier for young teenagers to buy than cigarettes... methamphetamine is the world's new drug horror story.

Gympie doctor Stephen Priestley is the public face of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's task force assault on ice, "the most dangerous illegal drug we have ever seen".

Mr Abbott said the drug was almost uniquely focused on regional Australia, and Gympie will be one of the front-line battlegrounds.

His deputy, Gympie's Wide Bay MP Warren Truss, said it was "more addictive than heroin and more likely to take your life".

And the Gympie community wants to do more about it.

Crisis support group Community Action will join with Medicare Local and Gympie Regional Council next Wednesday to hear from and inform those closest to the battleground.

Matt Allard
Matt Allard

Community Action youth support worker David Allard said about 100 people had responded already to the July 15 Ice in Gympie workshop, being held at the Civic Centre from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Police, community workers, emergency workers, health and youth workers will be joined by ordinary members of the community concerned about the issue.

That will include family and friends of people close to the issue.

"We've had so many RSVPs already, we've had to move from the Fossicker's Room to the larger Prospector's Room," Mr Allard said.

Speakers will include Dr Priestley, who is director of emergency medicine for Gympie's Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service; Bruce McNab, detective acting superintendent for Gympie's Central police region; Terry Jacobs, dual diagnosis co-ordinator for Mental Health and Addiction Services; Kevin Dailey of Victory Care Services and Tribe of Judah; Drug Arm counsellor John Omond and Mr Allard.

The workshop is supported by Medicare Local and Gympie Regional Council.

Mr Allard said yesterday the workshop was a response to Mr Abbott's National Taskforce on Ice.

Community Action was an amalgam of the Erin House domestic violence accommodation service, Community Action Housing Services and Community Action Youth Services, which provides crisis housing for young people.

One Mackay survey showed a vast majority of respondents had used ice.

"The response painted an ugly picture," according to Mackay's federal Dawson MP George Christensen.

Dr Priestly said methamphetamine use was not increasing, but disastrous side effects were, because of its increasing availability in the highly potent form of ice.

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