Funding cut to meth helpline

South West community members affected by methamphetamine use have expressed their views in a report run by the state government for the Methamphetamine Action Plan Taskforce.

Hearing from community members, the report found there was a need to focus on prevention and early intervention, reducing the stigma around drug use, helping people in crisis navigate services and offer practical support for families and individuals to rebuild their lives.

The state government has committed $45 million to reduce demand, harm and supply associated with methamphetamine over the next four years. 

However, Just a week after the announcement of the report, it was revealed the government would cut $154,00 to the WA Meth Helpline.

The funding decision means the number of funded counsellor shifts per week will be reduced from 75 to 65.

Collie Family Centre Inc program manager Sharon Thompson said there was a ‘dire’ need for more support.

“There is a massive problem in Collie with regards to methamphetamine use. This is the crisis we have – there’s no methamphetamine rehab in Collie itself,” she said. 

The Collie Family Centre refers people to the Palmerston Association which supports people with alcohol and drug issues and also to the South West Therapeutic Community which offers a residential rehabilitation program for up to 19 adults wishing to address their substance use issues.

“We also refer people to the drug and alcohol service in Collie located at the Collie Hospital,” she said. 

Collie Shalom House chairman David Gibbs said drugs were an issue. 

“We are in contact with a few people in Collie and doing what we can to help them but in all honesty they have to be in a place where they want to help themselves and that’s the issue,” he said. 

​The taskforce didn’t visit to Collie but held forums across regional centres, including Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Karratha, Broome, Northan and visited sites in Exmouth and Albany. 

Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said community concerns have been heard. 

“Although Collie wasn’t a chosen as a destination for the Methamphetamine Action Plan Taskforce to visit, the views and concerns have definitely been heard,” Mr Murray said. 

“Collie is no different to any other rural town when it comes to illegal drugs in the community and we are working hard as a community and a government to address this problem.

“The issue of meth abuse and addiction was certainly put on the back burner by previous governments and only now are governments across Australia taking it seriously.” ​

The taskforce will present its final report later this year.