South Coast children whose parents are 'ice' users are often exposed to sexualised behaviour, family violence and homelessness, a special inquiry has heard.
On the second day of hearings in Nowra, the NSW Government's Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice heard from social workers, education experts and service providers.
Amanda Jamieson, NSW Department of Family and Community Services South Coast manager, said social workers were increasingly dealing with ice-affected parents.
In the 12 months to April 2019, she said, of the 52 children who had been removed and placed in out of home care in the Nowra district - 34 of those had one or more parents who were using amphetamines, mainly crystal meth (ice).
Due to the "unpredictability of behaviours" Ms Jamieson said workers were fearful of attending homes on their own and went in pairs - creating a drain on resources.
Meantime a parent's ice use had a range of negative impacts on their children.
"There's a risk of supervisory neglect, a risk that children's basic needs aren't being met," she said. "(They may) have a lack of routine because parents are not sleeping and not eating ... and they forget that their children need to sleep and eat."
It could also lead to poor school attendance at school and to homelessness and physical and sexual abuse.
Children were also at risk of being exposed to a variety of erratic behaviours, Ms Jamieson told the inquiry last Friday.
"They're seeing parents using a mix of drugs - often cannabis, also valium and other drugs that will help them when they're coming down from ice," she said.
"They see that parents that are using ice tend to be more prone to psychotic episodes, and (one example is) a mother who became so convinced her child was going to be sexually assaulted that she took ice so she wouldn't go to sleep.
"... People who use ice become very sexualised and also are prone to engage in sexual behaviours without thought or regard to where their children might be."
She added that multi-generational drug use in many cases meant that children could not be placed with relatives.
And she said that government and non-government agencies needed to work with communities to tackle the problem: "It takes more than one agency to keep children safe".
Rise in ice use coincides with increase in suicidality
A rise in the use of ice or crystal meth in recent years has coincided with an increase in suicidality among the young people accessing Triple Care Farm's programs.
Gabriella Holmes, program manager at Mission Australia's drug rehabilitation and withdrawal facility at Robertson, told the ice inquiry the drawn-out detox led to people's feeling of "hopelessness".
Ms Holmes said a specialist withdrawal unit was established on site in mid 2017, as the research around methamphetamine withdrawal revealed that it took significantly longer than other substances.
"What we saw with the increase in the number of young people entering the program with methampetamine use; at the same time we saw a very significant increase in the number of young people experiencing thoughts of suicide and attempts at suicide," she said.
"So around 70 per cent of the young people (aged 16 to 24) we see now have attempted to take their own life in the very recent period prior to coming into treatment.
"As a service provider we need to be very skilled at identifying risk of harm to self to put in place safety plans for young people."