Enough is enough: Mandurah's police officers, retail staff and health workers tired of meth 'scourge'

Enough is enough: Health Services Union of WA secretary Naomi McCrae, WA Police Union president Harry Arnott and Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association WA secretary Peter O'Keeffe.
Enough is enough: Health Services Union of WA secretary Naomi McCrae, WA Police Union president Harry Arnott and Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association WA secretary Peter O'Keeffe.

The unions representing Mandurah's police officers, retail staff and health workers have bandied together to claim enough is enough, with their members put under significant pressure dealing with people impacted by the methamphetamine 'scourge'.

The Mandurah Mail is producing a four-week series, Falling Through the Cracks, examining how meth use in the Peel region is having a debilitating impact on our community.

In week one, we learned that almost 175,000 clean needles had been handed out to drug users in the first six months of 2019, while hearing the harrowing experiences of long-term addicts.

But what about those people on the frontline that have to deal with drug addicts in Mandurah?

Chronic meth use can lead to erratic and violent behaviour - something our local police officers deal with on a daily basis, according to WA Police Union president Harry Arnott.

"Methamphetamine use and substance addiction is one of the most pressing social and environmental factors affecting the community today," he said.

"There is an intrinsic link between methamphetamine use, family domestic violence and violence against police officers.

"People affected by methamphetamine are unpredictable and violent and we know that methamphetamine is affecting health services and creating a significant increase in mental health and welfare issues.

"We know that three police officers will go on the road today and be assaulted, which is an alarming statistic but largely driven by drug use.

"The policing landscape has been irreversibly and significantly altered because of this scourge."

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) represents retail, fast-food and warehousing workers and launched their 'No-one Deserves A Serve' campaign in 2017 in relation to violence from customers in West Australian workplaces.

WA secretary Peter O'Keeffe said people impacted by meth usage added to violence against retail workers.

"The SDA condemns all forms of violence and disrespect towards its members," he said.

"In some cases, this violence is clearly exacerbated by substance abuse - but this is no excuse.

"Our ongoing No-one Deserves A Serve campaign seeks to bring these issues to the attention of the public."

The Health Services Union of WA (HSUWA) represents more than 20,000 allied health professionals across the state.

Secretary Naomi McCrae said meth use in Mandurah and across WA was at epidemic levels, with hospital staff often bearing the brunt of the issue.

"Patients affected by meth who present at EDs require extra attention and resourcing because of the symptoms such as aggression, paranoia and agitation," she said.

"It comes with a whole range of behaviours that our members working in hospitals have to manage - that's from the clerk on the entry door to the security staff and everyone else trying to assist patients.

"This is so entrenched in the day-to-day expectations that it is an epidemic.

"Drug-induced patients are part of an escalated safety concern. This is an ongoing issue that needs some long-term thinking."

For information on Mandurah Narcotics Anonymous meeting times and help available to recovering drug addicts in the Peel region, call 1300 652 820 or visit wana.org.au.