TWO COMMUNITY forums will be held in Bendigo in October to tackle growing problems with methamphetamine.
The Department of Justice is organising the events in a bid to curb issues with the drug commonly known as ice.
Sergeant Mick Peckham of the Central Victorian Response Unit – which carries out drug raids – said he saw the effects of the “evil” drug each day.
“Certainly ice is a big focus for police, not just in central Victoria but in Victoria as a whole,” he said
“We see on a daily basis the effects that ice has on people and their behaviour.
“The people we deal with, some become aggressive and perhaps don’t act in a manner they normally would.
“I’ve also seen some perfectly, properly functioning humans in society that start using ice and lose their jobs, their marriages, their kids and start committing crimes.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s an evil drug.” Department of Justice regional director Loddon Mallee Jodi Henderson said the community needed to “take a stand” against the drug.
“Ice is a terrible drug that is wreaking havoc in rural communities and destroying the lives of many,” she said.
“While government agencies such as Victoria Police and the Department of Health are doing their level best to stop the supply of ice, the community also needs to take a stand.
“To do so requires knowledge and understanding of what this drug can do.”
Police, the City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Health are expected to attend the forums.
Figures published in The Age show there were 30 armed robberies in the Loddon region believed to be ice-related in the last 12 months.
Victoria Police statistics released on Wednesday showed a 19.5 per cent rise in drug offences in the region.
A spokesman for Bendigo Health said people frequently attended the organisation with issues caused by methamphetamine.
“Bendigo Health supports any initiative or community forum that raises awareness and takes a stand against the use of methamphetamine, or ice, in our community,” he said.
“Our Emergency Department and psychiatric services continue to experience a high frequency of patients who are under the influence of the drug and we continue to work with local police and other organisations to reverse this trend.”
A partnership has also been formed between several local groups to tackle drug and alcohol abuse.
Bendigo mayor Lisa Ruffell said a forum would be held in September with a particular focus on synthetic drugs.
“We are working to create community awareness by holding education forums about alcohol and other drugs which we hope will build on the momentum of the Australian Drug Foundation’s current campaign The Other Talk,” she said.