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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the Coalition Government is taking further steps to address urgent social problems associated with growing use of the drug ice.

The Australian Government has tasked its reshaped advisory council on drugs and alcohol to examine as a priority the issues facing Australia from methamphetamine use, and in particular the rising use of ice.

“We are responding to community concerns and evidence on the ground that ice is causing widespread devastation and destruction, particularly affecting young people,” Mr Chester said.

“I’ve had personal friends who have been devastated in recent weeks by a family member using ice. It is extremely concerning that many people know of someone who has been touched by this insidious drug.

“We’ve already seen other areas in regional Victoria deeply affected by ice and all levels of government have a role to play in ensuring the problem in Gippsland doesn’t get worse.”

Mr Chester said new data released by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre showed amongst all those who used methamphetamine there was an increase in the use of ice (or crystal methamphetamine) from 22 per cent in 2010 to 50 per cent  in 2013.

Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash recently announced that the Australian National Council on Drugs will be renamed as the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (ANACAD) which recognises the advisory council’s focus on alcohol as well as drugs.

“ANACAD’s key role will be to provide advice to the government on a range of national drug and alcohol issues, including advice on emerging issues and new substances, to ensure the government is well placed to respond.

“The newly constituted ANACAD will be chaired by Ms Kay Hull and backed by a membership of esteemed experts in the drug and alcohol fields,” said Minister Nash.

Ms Hull was Chair of the Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs Inquiry into substance abuse in Australian communities which delivered the Road to Recovery report in 2003, and she is a well-respected community leader who understands community expectations across Australia.

Other members of the advisory council are all experts from a wide range of areas relating to drug and alcohol, including health, justice, Indigenous, mental health, research and policy.

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