POLICE Minister Liza Harvey says WA’s methamphetamine usage is double the national rate.
The Minister addressed the public at Tuart Hill Community Centre last night along with Balcatta MLA Chris Hatton and Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell.
“Methamphetamine is a great concern, national surveys show our meth usage is 3.8 per cent of our population, across the rest of Australia 1.8 percent of people use meth so we’re about double the rate,” Mrs Harvey said.
“Wastewater testing recently found that 3.8 per cent usage is around about right.
“The meth usage in WA sits at about two tonnes per year and it is a trade worth about $2 billion.”
Mrs Harvey said there was a high level of despair, especially among families of users because people can become “unrecognisable” when they are under the influence of the drug.
“I found as I started getting out into the community and talking to people I found that people did not know where to turn to for help, they didn’t know what was being done and there was a great deal of concern for users and long term effects of the drug,” she said.
Mrs Harvey said there was currently legislation before Parliament, which would allow police to target drug transit routes into WA.
“It will give police the ability to declare a patch of road, for instance the highway coming into WA from the east coast at Eucla, a suspected drug transit route,” she said.
The legislation will also allow police to stop and search any vehicle on the routes without a warrant and declare a 5km radius around remote Aboriginal communities to stop and search vehicles entering.
“Another thing it will allow for is to search the dispatch centres of large courier companies; they have said to us they don’t want to be inadvertent drug couriers,” Mrs Harvey said.
“We need to divert people from possession charges to intervention and education sessions, people need to be facing something other than incarceration.
“We can’t give up on those who are adducted to meth because they can turn their lives around and there is help available out there.”
Mental Heath Minister Andrea Mitchell said compulsory alcohol and drug treatment was necessary.
“We need to get people out of their routine and stop the adduction,” she said.
“Some people say you can’t force people to do that you don’t have that right and I have to be aware of that but at the same time I’ve got a responsibility to the community and the a duty of care so we are looking at a proposal.
“It would only be one of the many services we are looking at as an extra tool to assist people.”
Ms Mitchell said she was working on easier access to information and help for families and individualised services to suit each person.
“What we are dealing with is people and every person is different, we’ve got to make sure we give people the resilience and knowledge to say no to these drugs,” she said.
“Lived experience is sometimes better to have former addicts as the ambassador which would work to get that message across to kids.”