Police, schools respond to ice forum

On Friday, the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner reported the concerns of a youth worker that school students were being offered the drug ice at school and that one teen had worked as a prostitute to fund her habit. Today, police and schools respond.

THE POLICE

FAR South Coast police crime manager Kevin McNeil says that while police are working hard to bust ice supply chains, they cannot do it without the community’s help.

Speaking after last week’s forum regarding the drug, held by Katungal Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service and reported in the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, Detective Inspector McNeil pleaded with the community to “talk to us”.

“Is this drug available? Yes, it would be,” he said.

“Are we investigating the supply chain within the command? Absolutely, but we can’t successfully do that without the help of the community.

“Help us expose these people, don’t let them make money.

“The people making financial gain in the sale of prohibited drugs, at the expense of drug users, we want to lock those people up.”

Inspector McNeil said the ice problem was not as bad on the Far South Coast as in other areas with younger populations.

Rather, general drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence were the biggest problems for police.

While ice users were part of that problem, Inspector McNeil could not say if ice use was an “epidemic”.

He said the region’s crime rate was “the lowest it has been in years”.

“There are people within pockets that do use the drug,” Inspector McNeil said.

“Our break and enters are down from last year and for the 

previous years.

“Our stolen vehicles are down and stealing from motor vehicles are down.

“They’re all the crimes that are the indicators of whether we have a problem.”

Inspector McNeil said he was unaware of anyone caught with ice in schools.

He said he had met school principals, but they had not raised the issue.

“There is no doubt children who have attended schools have been exposed to the issue of that drug. Whether they use it or not, I haven’t been made aware,” he said.

“I have not heard, nor have any reports been made to this local area command, of children prostituting themselves for ice.

“I would encourage any person that has that information to report it directly to police.”

Police have set up an anonymous hotline.

“Put them before the courts,” Inspector McNeil said.

“Whether (they go to) rehab or jail, that’s up to the courts, but we can’t get them there unless you let us know.”

Phone the hotline answering machine number on 4478 9937 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

THE SCHOOLS

The Bay Post/Moruya Examiner asked the shire’s high schools about claims ice was being distributed to students under the names “fairy floss” or “sherbet”.

Katungal Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service drug and alcohol outreach worker Steve Jackson made the claims at a forum last week.

Carroll College principal Steve Bath said the college had strong personal development and pastoral care programs to address drug use and its devastating results.

“Our focus is to support the mental, physical and 

emotional wellbeing of our students through positive behaviours,” he said.

“We are aware that an issue of major concern is the use of ice by the young people of the Eurobodalla, and we have factored that knowledge into our curriculum and pastoral planning.

“We would also be very supportive of any initiatives to further educate and support young people.”

St Peter’s Anglican College principal Graham Hincksman said the school would act on the issue.

“We have heard of it, but it hasn’t impacted at all on us or our school community,” he said.

“We’ve appointed a college psychologist this year and we’ll be discussing this issue with him to see if we improve our pastoral care to make sure we are in line with the issues that face youth.”

Moruya and Batemans Bay high schools directed the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner to the NSW Department of Education.

A department spokeswoman said the health, safety and wellbeing of students was of primary importance.

“Drug use is a community problem and public schools work with the police, the council, NSW Health and a range of other agencies to support initiatives and programs aimed at providing the community with information about drug use and the dangers associated with the use of drugs,” she said.

“Any students in public schools found to be engaging in drug use or the sale of drugs on school premises are disciplined according to the school’s policy.

“Students may be placed on short or long suspension, depending on their actions.

“Schools also support students who might be dealing with drug dependency, by providing counselling and support and, with parental assistance, accessing additional services for students and their families.”

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