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East Gippsland is one of 40 locations around Australia – and 15 in Victoria – where the first Local Drug Action Teams will be formed to fight drug use and addiction.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said Lake Tyers Health and Children’s Services would be the lead organisation for the action team in East Gippsland.

“The East Gippsland team will plan and deliver targeted action to tackle the specific challenges caused by drug use from Lakes Entrance to Orbost,” Mr Chester said.

“They are proposing to develop a mentoring and youth prevention program and provide consultation and information sessions in the region.”

“This is part of the Federal Government’s response to community concern and evidence that ice is causing widespread devastation and destruction, particularly affecting young people.”

“It is extremely concerning that many people know of someone who has been touched by this insidious drug. We’ve already seen 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.”

Lake Tyers Health and Children’s Services Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Squires said poly-drug use – using two or more drugs at the same time – was a key local issue.

“The evidence of the impact of drug use can be seen in the crime statistics and the child protection rates,” Miss Squires said.

“We will sit down with the Moogji Aboriginal Council and the Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association next month to develop an action plan. We have strong links with mainstream drug and alcohol services, so we will work with them, too.”

“We will focus on how to stop people from turning to drugs and how to get them into detox facilities. We also want to address the lack of detox facilities in this region and look at how we can establish one here.”

The $19.2million drug action team program is a key action identified under the National Ice Action Strategy in response to the recommendations of the National Ice Taskforce to increase community engagement and action to reduce the harm of drugs.

Mr Chester said the Coalition Government would spend $298 million over four years to combat illicit drug and alcohol use.

“It’s important that we tackle this problem on multiple fronts. A crucial element of this is empowering communities to develop and deliver local solutions to local issues.”

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