Dozens of Mandurah residents gathered in Falcon on Wednesday last week to discuss the city’s concerning methamphetamine problem during Mandurah’s meth forum.
The event, hosted by Liberal candidate for Dawesville Zak Kirkup, hoped to shed some light in how is Mandurah’s meth problem affecting local residents, and to start a dialogue about possible solutions to the problem.
Peel Youth Services chief Be Westbrook, Mandurah Volunteer Marine Rescue (MVMR) commander Ray Rudland, Peel Youth Medical Services’ Eleanor Britton and retired WA police officer Mick Rae shared some insights of their professional experience tackling the meth problem before handing the microphone to the community.
Mr Rudland highlighted the importance of today’s drug problem, and called for more police presence in Mandurah’s waterways.
“Today we have a problem; the increased drug use,” Mr Rudland said.
“Skippers and driving boats while intoxicated, and there’s just not enough police presence in the waterways to tackle drug and boating offences.”
Mr Rae agreed, and called for an increase of police officers not only in the water but also on the streets.
He also encouraged residents to report any suspicious behaviour to police.
“You are the frontline, you hear things, you see things, report it,” he said.
The main concerns among the community included the lack of rehabilitation services in the region, the lack of combined drug use and mental health support services, the need for compulsory rehabilitation, and the incapability of police to tackle the problem.
A Mandurah resident recalled her daily struggle living in the same street as several drug homes and how fights and vandalism had become common ground in her street.
She said she had been frightened about losing her life in one occasion, and she had even found a bag of ice buried in her garden.
She said the situation had been reported to police without results, and she had decided to withdraw her court statement in fear of reprisals.
“I found a bag of ice buried in my garden and it took two days until police picked it up,” the resident said.
“They are just short in staff.
“I’m scared for my life. I don’t want to get in a witness box, they know what I look like, why would I put myself in that position?”
Several other residents also agreed in the need to reform the judicial system so witnesses providing a statement are guaranteed more anonymity, and some expressed support for compulsory rehabilitation programs.
Another resident shared her story living with a youth addicted to meth, and the little window of opportunity for people addicted to drugs who suffer mental health issues, such as psychosis, to get help.
“I took her to a mental health appointment and they said ‘we can’t help you because you have a drug problem’,” she said.
“I took her to a rehab centre and they can’t help because she’s got violent tendencies.
“Mental health and drugs go hand in hand and and we need to treat them both.”
I’m scared for my life. I don’t want to get in a witness box, they know what I look like, why would I put myself in that position?Mandurah resident
A young resident and ex-ice user also spoke about the need to provide better education about drugs and their components, particularly to young people.
“People don’t know what they are dealing with, they don’t know what it’s made of,” he said.
“They need to know what the thing is, they need to be educated and know what the truth is.”
He also said there’s few opportunities for ex-drug users to provide counselling and mentoring to people going through rehabilitation.
A resident called for more resources to be allocated towards more rehab beds in the area, and said the government’s ice strategy was “too little, too late”.
“We need more help, the ice strategy is hopeless,” one resident said.
“We need 60 beds in here, not across WA.
“And we need it now, not over the next four years.”
Suggestions by residents included creating a parent support group for those parents with children going through addiction, longer rehabilitation programs, a zero drug tolerance policy in local shops and businesses, better training for health and counselling professionals and a combined drug and mental health approach.
To report any suspicious behaviour call 131 444.