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National Press Club -

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(generated from captions) now. I'm Whitney Fitzsimmons.

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ANNOUNCER: Today at the

National Press Club chairman of the Australian National Council

on Drugs and former senator

John Herron. Highlight ing the

growing use of methamphetamine

in Australia especially Ice Dr

Herron will launch the pu

position paper that explores

trends in drug use and recommendations to reduce their

impact on the community. Dr

John Herron with today's

National Press Club address.

(Bell rings) Ladies and

gentlemen, good afternoon.

Welcome to the National Press

Club and today's national

Australia bank address. Welcome

to Dr John Herron who we

haven't seen in Canberra for

quite a while. The Australian

national council on drugs is

the Government's principal

advisory body on illicit drug

policy and Dr Herron was

appointed chairman, an honorary

role in this council in

February last year, just after

he returned from a stint as

Australia's ambassador to

Ireland and the Holy See. Of

course we knew him as a Senate

Community Affairs Committee but

he's also had, as most of you

would realise, a distinguished

medical career. He's a fellow

of the Royal Ulster

Constabulary and the Australian

mecal association and has

undertaken a wide range of

Australian community and voluntary work for the

others, include ing a spell in

Rwandan refugee camp. (

Later on when we get to

questions Dr Herron will be

joined by two other council

members, David Crosby and

Robert Ally both with

experience in drug addiction

issues.

Professor A lrk ly is

director of clinical policy and

research for the drug and

alcohol services council of

South Australia and director of

the world health organisation collaborating centre for drug

and alcohol problems based at

the University of Adelaide.

First please welcome Dr John APPLAUSE Herron.

Thank you, Mr President. And

to start today I want to share

a snapshot of a drug user's

life. I quote, "Gradually

drugged took over my life. I

was starving to get - starting

to get into it earlier and

earlier each day. I became

really paranoid and reclusive.

I shut myself out from the

world and sunk deeper and

deeper into a depression that I

thought I would never recover

from. I was very hard to live

with and eventually my marriage

was to fail. One night at the

dinner table all I wanted to do

was go and lay on the carpet in

the lounge room, but I just

couldn't move. But then I

forced myself up and in my

haste I fell over and hit my

head on the wall of the

kitchen. I just lay there

looking up at my daughter who

was standing over me and I felt

this enormous sense of shame

come over me. I was totally

helpless there lying on the

floor. I felt so foolish and

embarrassed that what I would

become." Now today is primarily

about methamphetamine s but it

is important to establish early

in the address that our broad

focus needs to be on addressing

problems from all drugs. No-one

sets out to become drug

dependent and when it happens,

it's a deep pain shared by the person, as well as their family

and friends. Now imagine for a

moment 500,000 people gathered

together in one enormous crowd.

It would be phenomenal to see.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, a

crowd of half a million

Australians is the same number

that have used methamphetamines

in the past year. Almost one in

10 Australians have tried

methamphetamines. There are now

an estimated 73,000 dependent methamphetamine users in

Australia and that's almost

double the regular users of

heroin. The new ANCD paper I'm

releasing today not only

provides a snapshot of

methamphetamine use but more

importantly suggests some of

the ways forward.

Unquestionably, we need a

greater involvement and focus

on treatment and I will speak

more about that shortly, but

methamphetamines, which include

Ice, along with ecstasy and a

range of other amphetamines-type stimulants

have become one of the major

global drug problems that we

must also face here in

Australia. Again, I want to

quote a former drug user, but

this time they are speaking

specifically about their

addiction to Ice. "It ruins

your life. It make use into

someone that you are not. You

want it every day. You do

things that are against what

you believe. You lose your

family, your friends,

everything. People around you

are devastate ed and it just

takes over your whole life." At

this point I would sincerely

like to thank the National

Press Club for the invitation

to address you all today and

Australian National Council on the opportunity to present the

Drugs position paper on methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine use has become

a real concern in Australia

over the past few years.

There's been a rising

methamphetamine-related

problems impacting on both

health and law enforcement

services. No doubt many of you

have seen and heard of the

problems faceed by hospital

emergency staff and police on

the bet. Nevertheless, like all

drug problems, responding to

this problem requires a

balanced and coordinated

approach that en compasses

reducing the supply, reducing

demand for drugs and reducing

the harms associated with the

drugs. Thankfully, the balanced

and cooperative framework of

our national drug strategy

allows many of the responses

necessary to address methamphetamine use to be

already in place. In the form of prevention and treatment

programs. HIV prevention

initiative such as needle

exchange programs and many law

enforcement efforts across

jurisdictions in Australia and

internationally. And what this

paper reveals is that firstly,

whilst an estimated 1.5 million

Australians have tried methamphetamines, the majority

have either snorted or

swallowed the drugs on only a

small number of occasions and

thankfully, they are unlikely

to experience significant

problems from that

methamphetamine use. It's

estimated there are

approximately 73,000 dependent

users in Australia. In

2004/2005 there were 14,780

drug treatment episodes for

methamphetamine or amphetamines

use in Australia. And providing

effective treatment for methamphetamine dependence is critical to addressing the problem because most of the

harm from the drug comes from

dependent users. Worringly,

recent estimates suggest that

less than a third of dependent

methamphetamine users actually

receive treatment. Less than a

third. Harms associated with

heavy methamphetamine ious

include psychotic symptoms,

paranoia and hallucinations,

crime, drug dealing, property

crime, aggression or violent

behaviour, particularly during

drug-induced psychosis and

detear ition in social

functioning and a range of

physical health problems such

as stroke, cardio vascular

pathology and dental problems.

Fatalities from methamphetamine

use are not common and less

likely than for heroin use.

However, methamphetamine does

increase the risk of stroke and

cardiac failure and a note ail

number of

methamphetamine-related deaths

have now been documented in

parts of the USA. That's where

the drug use is more common. In

Australia, there are currently

around 50 deaths a year that

are attributed directly to the

use of psycho-stimulant drugs,

including methamphetamines.

Because methamphetamine use

does have many effects and consequences that differ from

other drugs, some of our

existing responses need to be

adapted while some further

specific responses to

methamphetamine are also

warranted. I will of course

return to the methamphetamine

paper and highlight some of the

recommendations it provides for

governments to address this

problem in Australia later in

my address, but as many of you

will know I'm been chairman of

the ANCD for nearly a year now

and I'd like to share with you

some of my thoughts and

observations on the council, as

well as explore many of the complexities facing Australia and indeed the rest of the

world in addressing the drug

and alcohol use. I'd also like

to acknowledge my colleagues

from the ANCD associate

professor Robert Ally and Mr

David Crosby who are here today

and will farm part of the panel

to answer questions after my at

disres. In case some of you are

wondering about my appointment,

I can assure you it's a position that I've been in

training for all of my life. As

a child, I was raised in a pub

in North Queensland and at the

age of 10 saw my first case of

what was then known as delirium

tremors or the DTs and it made

a lasting impreltion on me.

Later one of my first medical

appointments was an assistant

government medical officer

examining drunken drivers

before the days of random

breast tests where I regularly

witnessed the devastation

wreaked by motorcycle and

vehicles. I continually saw

violence and the hopeless

wasting of life not only from alcohol but in another sense

from tobacco. After I became Mr

For Aboriginal and Torres

Strait island affairs in 1996,

in fact the second longest serving Indigenous Affairs

Minister, in this country I in

my time as minister I saw and

learned a lot from my visits

and consultations with people

in over 165 Indigenous

communities. Again, the thread

of destruction weaved by

alcohol and increasingly other

drugs as well and lately petrol

sniffing was apparent. Of course politics is where I

became known to many people and

my time as minister also taught

me a lot about the media. I

learned that the media has a

very heavy responsibility in

balancing the requirement to

sell as against the need to

responsibly inform. It's an art

form to manage by politicians

and on occasion I think it's

just as difficult for you when

trying to get clear messages

through to the public about

where we are today with drug

use. Sometimes reading the

papers or watching and

listening to television and

radio would convince even the

greatest optimist that our

society was awash with drugs,

crime and violence and young

people everywhere were drinking

to excess and high on drugs. As

some of you no, I've nine

children and 17 grandchildren

and still counting and so I

share the worry and anxiety of

many parents and grandparents

over the array of drugs and

other risks our children have

to negotiate through in this

world today. In many senses the

lives of mine and some other

generations were simpler. And

easier. But then again,

opportunities were far more

limited than today with freedom

and responsibility and

opportunity and over indulgence

was greater. It places greater

demands on self-control and the

resistance of peer group

pressure. Today, however I

intend to use this he -

opportunity to talk directly

about the good news and the bad

news at drugs and alcohol

today. We have some of the most

dedicated and professional

people in the world working in

Australia on drug and alcohol

issues and I would on their

behalf like to present some of

the information you may not

always see or hear. As an

example, it is worth

remembering that overall drug

use in Australia has been

declining since 1998. The

overwhelming majority of young

people do not use drugs. They

are better educated and about

these issues than ever before.

The level of cannabis use has

seen the most dramatic decline.

The number of fatalities from

druggious has fall en by 70% in

the last 8 years and the

average age when people try

elicit drugs for the first time

has been increasing. Australia

has one of the lowest rates of

HIV infection amongst injecting

druggiousers in the world. And

since 1998, as your president

mentioned, there's been an

additional $1.8 billion of

federal funding allocated to

address drug and alcohol

problems in Australia with a

substantial amount of this

funding being provided for the

elicit drug diversion initive

which seeks to divert drug

users from the criminal justice

system and into the drug

treatment system. It's also

been estimated by the ANCD that

at least 50% of this new and

additional funding is being

used to provide education,

prevention and treatment

service for drug users.

However, this is not a time for

complacency. As we must also acknowledge, alcohol and

tobacco remain tts most

socially, economically and

health-damaging drugs in

Australia. And despite the use

of elicit drugs generally

declining since.1998 the use of

methamphetamine and ecstasy use

in Australia has been

increasing. Whilst Australia

has a mature and sophisticated

drug treatment service network

with the legal of accessibility

and vaibtdty of this treatment having increased significantly

over the years, the level of

dependent drug users in

treatment in Australia is

estimated to be below 50%. This

is still lower than some

Western countries where rates

above 70% are achieved. And one

of the areas that we must focus

our attention on today is the

group of drugs known as

amphetamines-type stim lens and this refers to

methamphetamines, including

crystal meth method, which is

marketed and known as Ice and

other drugs, such as ecstasy

and related drugs. Production

and use of these drugs whatsest

has been increasing around the world, particularly in the United States, Thailand and

Japan. You may be aware that

two weeks ago the Home Office

secretary in the UK

reclassified crystal meth

method as a class A substance

increasing the penalty for

people who use crystal meth

metaphor up to 7 years in jail

and an unlimited fine while

dealers could get life behind

bars. Closer to home, with emow

from our colleagues in the

region that the Asia-Pacific

area has been home to some

enormous production fast Is for

methamphetamine with literally

tonnes of the drugs being

produced and this production

has turned increasingly to its

crystallised form or Ice. There

are many Des nations for the

drugs, including the US, Europe

and Australia, but increasingly methamphetamine use is becoming

the drug of choice in many

countries in the region and

particularly among young people

in the burgeonening midding

classes, as well as those in

occupations which demand

prolonged activity, such as

truck drivers. Such

developments only serve to

emphasise the need for

Australian authorities in the

Australian Federal Police and

Customs Services to continue to

collaborate and work closely

with our regional neighbours to address methamphetamine production and trafficking and

the need for our health and

development services to engage

and assist with treating drug

use in a - at a much greater

level in this region. I am pleased to report that

Australia has worked

increasingly in the past few

years to a strengthen our

understanding and ties with our

counterparts in this area.

Drugs are truly a global

phenomenon and just as

traffickers work across

national borders, so must we if

we are to under mine their

efforts to decrease the

availability of drugs.

Increasingly there is respect

and reliance on Australian

expertise and knowledge on drug

issues across the region. To

return to the methamphetamine situation in Australia, over

the past year or more, media

reports have abounded with

tragic tales of young lives

ruined by methamphetamine,

heightening the fears of

parents and families and

requiring action by governments

from communities. However, if I

can get one clear message

across on baf of the ANCD it

would be not to panic.

Although methamphetamine use

has increased over the past

decade, there is increasing

evidence that its use may have

stabilised in the last couple

of years. We know that

methamphetamine is a drug

that's taken by a wide variety

of people and is associated

with a number of usage pat

teshs. I repeat - patterns. I

repeat of the 1.5 million

Australians that have tried

methamphetamine the majority do

so once and only on a small

number of occasions and are

unlikely to experience significant problems or

continue to use the drug.

However, it's a highly addict

#i6 - addict ive substance. A

proportion of people who try

the drug move on to take

methamphetamine regularly and

experience increasingly levels

of harm from using its. In

fact, the increase in

problematic associated with

methamphetamine is becoming

more visible due to a number of

users becoming dependent or

chronic users over time. One of

its striking features is its

potential to induce psychotic

behaviour which endangers those

who are trying to help,

particularly nurses and police.

Par Moya is not uncommon. The

reason we are asking people not

to panic is because Australia

already has in place

significant measures to reduce

the reduction and supply of

methamphetamines here. Of course, supply is only one side

of the equation and reducing

the demand for the drug and

indeed all drugs, remains our

best chance of ever coming

problematic drug use in this

country. To reduce demand we

need to educate and inform

people about drug and alcohol

use and the damage and risks it

causes and we need to have

sufficient treatment services

available for those who need

them. Whilst we have quite a

sophisticated treatment system

in place for drug users, more

work and investment is needed

to improve the access to

treatment for all drug users

and in particular for

methamphetamine users. In

releasing this position paper

today, the council is mindful

of not wanting to act as an

unwilling marketer of

methamphetamines, particularly

Ice. Naming the drug Ice

clearly demonstrates the

ability of elicit drug manufacturers to use sophisticated marketing

techniques for what does Ice

conjure up in your mind,

something that is cool and

crisp and clean. Unfortunately,

this is an image far from

reality. The dirty, unsanitary

and unsafe production of the

drug is glossed over with the

use of the name to remove such

thoughts from the user's mind.

The same issue applies equally

to another amphetamines-type

stimulant and that's ecstasy.

Again we have a name that's

designed to attract and

deceive. Even the name, the use

of term such as party drugs, serve little purpose other than

to potentially promote a group

of drugs that are dangerous.

What all of this shows us is that elicit drug manufacturing

is an insidious and crawl

business run purely for the

profit of the in scrupulous.

God only knows what ingredients

may be mixed in by suppliers to

increase profits and little is

known about the unsanitary and

dangerous means of product ion

that many employ. What we are

trying to do by releasing this

paper is to provide a path for

governments to take to address methamphetamine use in

Australia. We know there will

be many people who will try the

drug and we also know that

there will be some of these

that will find the experience

far from fleshable, but for

some who may enjoy the

experience, they potentially

risk finding themselves using

the drug far more regularly

than they would care to admit

and eventually find themselves

addicted to the drug and with

all of the harms that it

entails. As the quotes I

provided earlier graphically

demonstrate. To respond we need

to galvanise our educational

efforts, invest more in our

treatment system, maintain our

public health programs and

continue to support efforts to

reduce the supply of the drug.

This is a strengthening of the

kind of approach taken by

Australia and builds upon the

cooperation between health and

law enforcement sections which

is an often June reported

hallmark of Australia's

approach to addressing drug use

and stands us in good stead for

address ing methamphetamine

use. Some of the specific recommendations made by the

council in the paper include

utilising existing police and

court diversion programs, as

well as drug testing programs

for drivers to target

methamphetamine users for

referral into treatment.

Maintaining efforts to restrict

thevatety of precursor

chemicals used in the

manufacturer of

methamphetamines. Encouraging partner ships between health

and law enforcement personnel.

Encouraging media campaigns

that are well researched and do

not lead to an unintended increase in methamphetamine use

or other harms. Improving our

understanding and over coming

the barriers faced by drug

users in accessing drug

treatment, increasing the

awareness of evidence-based

treatment options for

methamphetamine use and

improving the capacity of

treatment providers to use

these types of treatments.

Further, building on the

capacity and evidence base for

the treatment provided by

therapeutic communities and

residential-care services for

methamphetamine use. Ensuring that drug treatment services

have the capacity to identify

and treat or refer patients who

have co-morbid mental health

problems. This could involve

having on sight sie yacht trick

staff and/or clinical psychologists and where

appropriate integrate

psychiatric drug treatment

services. Implementing HIV

prevention strategies for

injecting drug users that

address both inject ing-risk

behaviour and sexual-risk

behaviour. I now want to turn

briefly to the ANCD and its

role in work. You see the ANCD

is a very unusual and unique

organisation. It's both an

insider to government providing

advice and expertise on a range

of issues, but it is made up

prodominantly of people who are

outside government who work in

treatment, research and

education, as well as lawen

forcement. The inaugural chairman, when it was

established in he 1998, was

Major By quan Watters who's

been apointed to the

international narcotics Bored

and I pay tribute to his

leadership. I've developed

nothing but admiration for the

people that serve on the

council. They are all apointed

by the Prime Minister and

undertake the work of the

council on top of their

full-time and already de

manning positions. The work of

the council is important and

must be maintained as a source

of independent evidence-based

advice for governments, what

ever their persuasion. Having

touched on politics, I want to

return to my main work if

politics when I was in the

Federal Government and that's

Indigenous issues. The

particular issue in some

Indigenous communities is

petrol sniffing. Fashionable

though it mate be at the

moment, I want to thank the

petrol producers for the

production and introduction of

open l fuel. Open l fuel when

it substitutes regular fuel has a dramatic effect in lowering

the damage due to petrol

sniffing. It does not damage

motor vehicles. As I mentioned

at the start of this address,

I've witnessed some truly

appalling and distressing

events as a result of alcohol.

Wherever alcohol has been inter

betweened with Australian

history and broaching this

subject can be quit difficult

because accusations of wow er

can often ensue. Let me make it

clear that I drink alcohol and

so do some of the other members

on the bird. We don't want to

stop alcohol being available

and consumed. What we do want,

however, is a recognise and

approach to alcohol that

reduces the damaging effects of

excessive alcohol consumption

and in particular the violence,

fear and intimidation caused by

public intoxication and mob

behaviour. The production, sale

and marketing of alcohol in

Australia and worldwide are

multibillion-dollar industries.

Alcohol also causes billions of

dollars of damage. There are

many factors we need to address

in Australia when addressing alcohol. But I believe there

are throw priorities that are

crucial if we are to stop the

damage it can cause and does

cause for many people. First we

must address the culture of

drinking in this country which

celebrates down Kenness and

promotes binge drinking as some

sort of right of passage and

mark of respect. I'm not

seeking to lecture young people

as they are often lectured

about binge drinking. Indeed

responsible drinking is

something many adults to do as

well as expect from others. Parental education is important

and an example from them speaks

louder than words. Secondly, we

must revisit our promotion of

alcohol laws, which allows

alcohol advertising to be shown

during the day when children

are watching television because

there is a sporting event on or

out of touch these things are

out of touch with community

wishes. The alcohol industry

spends millions on promoting

its products and there is a

reason for this - greater

restrictions on advertising and

promotion are warranted for the

potentially dangerous product.

Finally, the taxation schedule

for alcohol need to be

revisited to ensure they are

structured to reduce harm. This

can only take many forms, but

the base of taxation should be

one determined by the volume of

alcohol in a product with the

necessary adjustments to

promote responsible

consumption. Some of you may

know also I've been a strong

advocate to reduce tobacco

smoking for many years. As

chairman of the Senate xp

committee Australia probably

leads the world in having the

lowest rates of tobacco smoking

today. Our efforts in getting

these lower levels is based on

a number of strategies being

implemented, maintained and

expanded. There are lessons to

be learnt here for our approach

to drugs and alcohol. The

results we've been achieved

have been due to biapartisan

cooperation at all levels

through the State and federal

ministry council on drugs and the intergovernmental committee

of public servants on drugs and

the media, resulting in an

increasing and rapid response

to the emerging dangers of new

substances, such as we are

mentioning today. On the other

hand, never underestimate the

ruthlessness of organise ed

crime in its efforts to

increase its wealth. Organised

crime is a clear and present

danger to all our families and

all of us to stay alert to the

death, destruction and havoc

that is a consequence of

complacency. In concluding my

address today, I'd like to

emphasise that Australia has a

great deal of work undertaken

and achieved a great deal to

reduce drug use and the harms

it causes us all. I would also

like to stress that to address methamphetamines and indeed all

drug use requires a balanced,

pragmatic and partner ship

approach and that, if there is

one way we can make an

immediate impact, it would be

to recognise the treatment is

the best investment. As I said

at the start, no-one sets out

to become addicted to drugs and

to hurt those around them and

treatment provides a real

pathway out of this mile.

Finally I would like to

official y release the Australian National Council on

Drugs on Methamphetamine (Ice)

Position Paper and I'd like the

media and people of Australia

to respond on its contents.

We'd welcome your interest and

respond to the debate. Thank

you for allowing me to be in

your presence today. I now call

on Associate Professor Robert

Ally and Mr David Crosby to

join me in answering any

questions that you may have. Thank you.

APPLAUSE

Thank you very much, Dr

Herron. As you've said, the

usual period of questions start

today and the first one is from

Jackie Maddock. Hi. My question

is for Dr Herron. Since the

Federal Government injected

$1.5 billion into drug and

alcohol problems back in 1998,

we have seen an overall decline

in drug use, except with

methamphetamines. In your

opinion, what would it take

from the government to see that

use decline as well? I think I

can't quantify it in terms of the quantity of money that

needs to be injected because I

think the resources need to be

beefed up really in getting

methamphetamine users, one to recognise that they might have

a problem and, two, then to access

access treatment. Next

question from senator

O'Malley. You spoke today about

how your political esexperience

has help ed your role in the

ANCD. There is a lot of speculation about another

senator who may be taking a

diplomatic posting overseas.

Could you - would you give any

advice to any of your former

colleagues who may be looking

at a job like

at a job like that? What kind

of skills do politicians bring

to that role? Once you're an e

x nobody ever takes any notice

of any advice you give and I

don't intend starting. APPLAUSE

Daniel Croniin. As a former

minister for Aboriginal and

Torres Strait island affairs, I

wanted to ask if you shoulder

any responsibility for the

situation today where drug

substance abuse problems are

such a serious problem in parts

of those communities. Why or

why not? We all do. The worst

thing that we did I think as a

nation over 30 years ago was to

make Aboriginal peoplewell fare

dependent. I have formed many

friendships in that period of

time and I remember a group of

elders in a remote community in

Western Australia talking to me

about it is-down money and even

indary communities, the it

is-down money fuelled gambling.

I think we as a nation made a

grievous error when we made Aboriginal people welfare

dependent and we have to back

track. Of all the things that

we did before that, the

introduction of alcohol, the

availability of drugs, by

destroying self-reliance and

all of those other things that

you would be well aware of, and

most people are, I think the

worst thing we did was to make

them welfare-dependent and as a

result of that came all of

these other problems. Nick let

Burke. From'The Daily

Telegraph'. Dr Herron, you've

previously said that the

community has underestimated

the Ice epidemic in Australia

but today you tell us not to

panic. 1.5 million Australians

who have tried this drug, at

what point do we need to take

action and what point should we

start paying attention to a

drug that's got twice the

number of addicts than

heroin? I think if you see - I

mean, it is up to you. When I

say "you" I mean your

generation. If you see people

using methamphetamines and I

know they are very common

because of my own information

that I've received from family

members, I think you should

council them about the - consel

them about addiction. It is

relatively cheap in relation to

heroin, for example. I think

there's a responsibility on all

people, particularly in the age

group attending rave pears or

going to concerts and so on to

alert their peer group of the

potential dangers that this

drug users which is a new

product that's been available.

Funnily enough, when I was a

medical student it used to be

prescribed for weight loss and

some of the students would take

it to keep alert. It wasn't

freely available or marketed

illicitly. It was on prescription only. That's the

change that's occurred in that period of time. I think there

is a responsibility for all of

us here today because we're all members of the human race.

We've all got families and

friends and I think community

action is required as much as might be from government 6789

Annabelle Stafford. You

mention ed about the problems

with alcohol leading to things

like mob mentality. I just

wondered whether you thought or

how much of a par alcohol had

to play in rent events, such as

intimidation at the Big Day Out

or riots that have got a racial

kind of element to them. Do you

think that alcohol abuse has

some part in that and if so do

you think politicians need to

get up and say, look, he is not

all about being Australian or

not? I feel I'm hogging the

limelight and I would ask disai

individual Crosby who is a far

greater expert on alcohol than

I am if he would mind coming to

the lec turn and respond. I'm

not sure whether it is working.

I'm a bit worried when you say

I'm a greater expert than you

you may be talking about my

drinking behaviour. There's no

doubt and there are many in the

room who work in this field

that alcohol is the major

issue. Intoxication causes

immense problems across the

whole community and we pay a

huge price. We are talking

about Ice being a problem if

emergency rooms Think on

average in Australia around 3

people attend an emergency room

in a hospital for

in a hospital for an Ice

psychosis every day there would

be at least 100 types every day

attending for an

alcohol-related problem. So

we're very aware in the field

and most of our treatment and

most of our work, most of the

problems that we deal with are

actually alcohol related and we

need to do a lot more to

address alcohol problems. I

think it is interesting. We

sort of accept the level of violence that flows from

alcohol consumption because

it's part of our culture that

people drink to excess.

David Spears. From Sky News. Dr

Herron, I'm also interested in

your comments on alcohol and

perhaps how we are

underestimating the problem

that it is causing. You've

suggested here tighter controls

on advertising, higher tax

rates as well for certain types

of alcohol. Have you proposed

that to the government or

indeed the Opposition in this

selection year? Have you had

any feedback? What about the

issue of the age limit as well?

Should we be looking at introducing laws in the United

States where it is 21-year age

limit rather than 18? The

answer to the first question is

the argument is put forward has

been proposed in the past. I

think it's one of those things

that has tended to be swept

under the carpet and not

addressed in relation to the

age limit. It varies as you

know in different sets, for

example driving licences and on

the other hand the age of 18.

On the one hand, there may be

some advantage of doing that,

but on the other hand, in terms

of regulating it, its would be

virtually impossible to

regulate. So, I'm not

advocating that. It's again one

of those things where it is all

very well saying "they should

do that, the government should

do this" or whatever. What are

you doing about it in relation

to your children or your

family? Because you have a

responsibility and fortunately

I've no problems in my family

in that regard, but I think we've all got a responsibility

in terms of education in terms

of our own family and you won't

have a problem with age in that

regard if you constructively

bring and show the example to

your children of responsible

alcohol consumption. You don't

need age limits. Dr Herron,

could I ask you and all of your

colleagues, I suppose I should

say, about the ANCD and broad policy directions. You

mentioned at the outset that

the three main underpinnings

were reducing supply, reducing

demand and minimising harm.

Until the departure of Major

Watters, the policy as far as

we could tell fully supported

by the Prime Minister, was a

very strict "just say no to

drugs" kind of policy and there wasn't a great deal of

support for harm minimisation.

Is the council reconsidering

that position or are they

changing the balance between

those factors? I can only

answer part of that and I'll

then ask Robert to respond in

that regard because he's been

on the council since its

inception. An absence of drugs

of course is the ideal

situation, but we don't live in

an ideal world and so I can't

speak for the ANCD prior to my

chairmanship, so Robert, would

you mind responding to that? I

think the council always has

had a very broad church of

opinion and it is one of the

things that the council has

rejoiced in, has been the

variety of opinions that have

been discussed and debated. But

the council always has had a

balanced opinion about the

investments which is including

reducing harm. The expression

of that of course is always

turn towards illegal drugs, but

Australia has a history of

harm-reduction approaches,

everything from road-traffic

design to reduce the impact of

moator vehicle accidents,

through to other prevention-type activities,

like random breath testing. So

the council has accepted that

point of view. The articulation

of that, however, and the council's endorsement of

clean-needle programs, needle

exchange, is probably our

biggest and most important

commitment visible commitment towards unintended consequences

of drug use and HIV are as John

has mention ed. We are blessed

many this country where we have

low rates of HIV amongst drug

users and that's because

Australians are pragmatic. We

deal with people how we are and

encourage them to move forward,

not just dealing with them as

how we wish hay were. Look, I

think sometimes we get stuck on

the terminology that people use

and the kind of public

discourse. I tend to judge

governments by their budget allocations and what they're

actually supporting and what

they are actually resourcing

and I think increasingly this

government has supported

harm-reduction measures, not

only like needle/syringe

exchange programs but if you

were "zero tolerance" why would

you be putting huge ams of

money into the diverting people

from the criminal justice

system into treatment? I think

Australia actually had a

balanced approach. It works

with health and police and

courts increasingly to make

sure that people get the best

options they can, in terms of

trying to reduce the problem.

We still have a way to go, but

I think we've actually made

huge steps forward and we

should be very proud of that.

Mr President, one of the things that impressed me having been

in a life where it was

adversarial to encounter

cooperation between all State

governments of another

political persuasion to mine

and Federal Government and the

intergovernmental committee of

all of the bureaucrats working

constructively together and

I've just been amazed at the

support that the ANCD has had

because I appear before these

groups speaking on behalf of

the ANCD, I think Australia has

a unique situation because I'm

not aware of this and I have

done study tours in relation to

drugs before I came into this

role, that we as a nation are

working co-operative ly at a

structural level and we are

getting the outcomes that we

are as a result of that not

only in relation to HIV, which

is a major success, but tobacco

smoking as well and now more

recently in relation to drugs,

we can show the world - and I

know we do if some things, but

in this, which is a major

problem for the whole of the

world, I think it's interesting

that south-east Asian nations

are now approaching Australia,

saying to us, why are you

doing? How are you doing it?

How can we do it? Robert is

taking a lead role in that in

relation to the world health

organisation. Thank you. Back

to Jackie Maddock. OK. Dr

Herron, her win use in

Australia still claims more

lives than Ice. I'm just

wondering, do you think unless

we take some sort of action to

combat methamphetamine use that

that might change in the

future? Secondly, you've said

in the paper that one in 40

Australians tried

methamphetamines last year. It

seems like a lot. Can you

explain to me how that is

determined. You'll see there

are 86 references in the

position paper their I've

release ad some work has been

done in that regard. Because we

deal only on evidence base

report s in the ANCD, we don't

accept anecdotal evidence, but

there is a lot of anecdotal

evidence in that regard. For

example, the - we've been told

that it is not uncommon for

young people to take Ice or

methamphetamine and then drink

some cheap alcohol and then go

to a rave party. They are high

and they are half drunk and

high they don't need - and then

they consume water because it is cheaper than having alcohol.

But that is Annette dotal.

We're doing work on that to

quantify it at the moment. But

as with all statistics, they

are usually a year or two

behind and moss of this material, although some is last

year, most is 2004/5. I

don't know if my colleagues wish to add anything to

that. I think that the risk of methamphetamine replacing

heroin is a higher rate of

mortality is unlike ly. People

die from her win because of

poly drug use. Usually their

combination of alcohol heroin

stops them from breathing. As

John's mentioned, alcohol and

amphetamineses often go

together, but amphetamineses

are stimulants and the risk of

stopping breathing from them is

not a concern. It's the risks

of the heart racing too quick

ly or a stroke. Those thing s

are relatively rare and

unlikely to change. The good

thing about a Australia is that

it's an honest country. It

accurately reports rates of

drug use. The government spend

a large amount of money trying

ing to understand rates

offious, patterns of use and

harms and to think carefully

about what to do about that. So

the national household survey

was the basis for estimation of

the size of the scope of the

problem. But we also do much

more detailed work to try and

understand risk populations and

the consequences of those

risks. One of the tings that is

often reported is Australia's

high rate of use, but part of

that of course is because we

accurately report the

rates. Thank you. Sorry to

interrupt you before. That is

alright. The report refers to

school-baisd programs on one

way to tackle the

methamphetamine use. At what

stage do you believe children

should be alerted to the

dangers and, secondly, the

Government is planning a $10

million grim reaper-type

campaign to tackle the reemmer

jence of HIV AIDS. Do you think

a similar scare campaign is

needed to warn quoung people of

the so-called daing - dangers

of these so-called party

drugs? The age should almost be

from birth. As you know

pregnant women shouldn't Cink

alcohol, so it is pre-birth in

terms of education in rel to

alcohol and other drugs, but in

particular alcohol because it's

so common. I'm not - I don't

think personally a scare

campaign at this stage was - it

was effective in the past. But

in terms of campaigns,

campaigns need to be targeted.

As I mentioned, it is no good

going to a young fella going to

a football match, don't drink

or don't do this or that.

That's the last thing they want

to hear. But targeted campaigns

are the way to go many rel to

the risk group. Robert, do you

want to add anything to that or

David? I think that one of the

things about school-based

educations is the context in

which they are delivered.

One-offs don't work. You need

consistent on going exposure to

information to prepare socially

equip resilience to uptake of

youths and you need to also

ensure that the community in

which the child goes home to

has those messages reinforced.

If you hear something in the

school, but you don't see it in

the place where you live or the

community where you live, then

it's a fact it its impact is

diminished. We are also seeing

onset offious of drugs at young

ages, so we want to get a head

of. That so early childhood

use is the best time to start

school-based educations and we

need to think broadly about drugs. Drugs cloud the legal

ones and not just the illegal

ones and the messages are all

the same. They are about resilience.

resilience. Dr Her er on, I

add like to ask you as a father

of nine. My wife had 10, but I

was there. What would be the

best advice you could give to

other parents who are perhaps

fearful of their children using

drugs or concern about drug

miss the commuent? -

community? In the case of

males, love your wife. In the

case of females, love your

husband or spouse and show your

example to your chirn because

it all begins in the home. It

is all very well talking about

school education. The best

education you can give is in

the home and it's your own

behaviour that imprints itself

on a child, not teachers. They

do to a degree and all of us

will remember great teachers in

our time, but it's the example

that we give to our children

that's more important than

anything else. Dr Herron, just

back on the education question,

there is evidence to show that

Ice is being used by children

as young as 12. Exactly what

age do you think we should start education campaigns in

the schools? Should it be a

kindergarten thing - don't take

Ice? No, not kind garten.

You've got to allow children

the joy of growing up. You

don't want to impress these

types of things on them.

Certainly I think early school,

primary schools, yes. You start

talking about it. Because it

does have an effect. It's a bit

late when people are adults to

start saying you shouldn't do

this and you shouldn't do that.

I think early school, not kindergartens. Allow children

the enjoy life and then start

gradually talking about the

dangers of all drugs, as Robert

mentioned. I think I can claim more experience than most in

this room. Apart from perhaps

Brendon Smith who grew up in a

family of 12. This is a

question for all of you. The

Government recently said it's planning to have another

campaign on HIV and one of the

things that you've mentioned is

Ice can and methamphetamine use

can lead to more risky sexual

behaviour. How much of this

resurgence in HIV cases can be

attributed to drug use? Do we

know? Are we researching that?

Then, how should this new HIV

campaign look at that? I'll ask

Robert to respond because,

again, it would be a more

considered answer than I could

give. There are groups that use

methamphetamine s that have

particularly high risks of

transmission of HIV. Gay men

are a group that stand out

where the use of

methamphetamine might be to

increase performance or

increase desire. But it's not

just limited to that group.

Certainly any campaign that's

going to heighten awareness

about HIV in the community

would also be focusing again by

sexual - bisexual men anyway.

But that's a group that would

be of particular concern. Dr

Herron, just before we ask

David Spears for the last

question, could I ask you and perhaps David yosby, what you

think about attitudes towards

the legal drugs and

restrictions on their use? When

restrictions started to be

introduced on smoking in the

country, there were all sorts

of dire forecasts about what it

would do to the club industry,

the hotel industry, the civil

rights of smokers and so forth.

You were if Ireland, I think,

when they introduce ed quite

draconian restrictions on

smoking in Irish pubs which

people had never envis aged

before and similar atmosphere

existed in nrk when they

introduced it there. What was

your experience and do you

think generally that people are

now far more receptive to

restricting the access to and

use of the little else

drugs. It was fascinating in

Ireland. It was going to be the

end of the world. The Irish

culture was a pub culture or

pub culture and the home

environment was very small and

impoverish ad so on in the

past. Hotels were going to go

to the wall. People were going

to suicide and then they were

going to produce rooms outside

where people could smoke. The

usual debate went on. Then the

minister, Minister Martin

introduced it. Ireland is quit

a small place, only a little

over a million in Dublin ach as

ambassador you met all of the

shakers and movers there and if

I can do a little aside I'll

come back to the answer of the

question, I used to get up and

say 30-40% of Australia was

descended from the Irish and

that at least 30-40% of the

Irish had been to Australia as

tourists and there would be rem

straition from the crowd. They

would say not 30-40%, all of

us! All of us have been to

Australia! Australia is held in

such high regard there. It was

almost embarrassing. I got to

know Mihail Martin and he

produced our Senate standing

committee report, actually. He

was under enormous pressure.

The fascinating thing is once

they introduced the law, overnight everybody accepted

it. All of the Opposition

stopped. The reality was, even

in Ireland, there were more

non-smokers than smokers and

people didn't want to go to

pubs and get their eyes blast ?with cigarette smoke and were

going outside and all of this

sort of thing. It was quite

fascinating. It was as if you

had turned a switch off or

turned a switch on. They just

stopped. It was

stopped. It was accepted. We

inherited from the Irish our

opposition to the law, I

suppose, and it was in general

terms, for example they haven't introduced random breath

testing in Ireland for drivers.

There is a resistance to all of

those things. But they accepted

this overnight. I to this day

am still wondering,

am still wondering, Mihail

Martin lost his portfolio over

it because of the resistance,

but it is there still in

Government. A courageous act

but he was supported by the

Prime Minister. Whether

Australians are more accepting

now remains to be seen. I think

they are. I think they are

becoming more health conscious

in relation to the diabetes

epidemic that is almost upon us

now or is upon us, rool really.

People are accepting of

regulation because we are

pacing in society, in

Australian society, something

weve never faced before. That

is an ageing population. The

age expectancy was 55 and now

it is over that in a century.

We've never faced this thing

before. We are better education

ed and as mennioned we are

better understood of computers and understanding of diseases

and the expansion of medical

knowledge and expansion is

dramatic and probably we'll

become like the Irish, more

accepting of regulation. David,

Crosby, what do you think about

that? The interesting thing

and probably many viewers and

people in the room are unaware,

we do have strong restriction s

around alcoholious. They are

just not enforced. It is

illegal to serve someone who is

intoxicated in a lie sefnsed

premises, but I don't see a lot

of prosecutions for people

being served when they've had

too much to drink. We talk

about our underage drinkers. It

is quit acceptable for underage

people to drink. Our culture

around enforcing alcohol laws

is woeful and I think there's a

lot of work to be done there

before we talk about the new

legislation or the new chains

that may actually make a

difference. We will have to

wrap it up there. Thank you

very much, all three of you,

for dealing with these

questions and particularly Dr

Herron for your earlier

address. We'd like you to have

a momento of the occasion. It's

a long time since we gave you

the last one. Thank you very

much. Thank you very much. APPLAUSE

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