A drug blitz cracking down on ice and party drugs, is about to kick off, with a new national TV and online ad campaign. It's timely, with Schoolies set to party in just a few weeks to celebrate school's end.
The Federal Government will also reveal alarming new statistics on ice seizures, which is ruining too many lives. The confronting ads hope to stamp out drug use, especially among our young.
Joining us from Melbourne to discuss is the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt.
Morning to you, Minister.
What's the main aim of this campaign? Is it education? Is it a crackdown? And who is it targeting in particular?
It is saying to both young people and parents that ice and party drugs such as MDMA or caps or ecstasy can ruin your lives, but there is a way back. There is help.
The government has set up drughelp.gov.au and this is to assist both young people and parents. Because on many occasions it’s parents who don’t know where to turn and it’s parents who can provide advice.
But for young people, we know that even one drug can set you on the path to an addiction, to violence, to tragic consequences for yourself or for others.
So it seems the ad is really following the advice of health experts to treat drug use as a health issue rather than concentrate on its criminal aspect.
What our ads are doing is focusing on the health issue that it can lead to mental health issues, anxiety, depression, psychoses.
These drugs have a huge impact on the body and, through that, can have an impact on people’s mental health.
So rather than helping you, they can destroy your lives. But there is a real pathway of treatment support.
Can I ask you about this trial in the ACT which is doing this ground-breaking measure to test pills at a music festival there. What are your thoughts around that?
It's a matter for the ACT but as a matter of principle we don’t support it simply on the basis that saying that any drug is okay, is not okay.
And that’s because whether it is caps, ecstasy, MDMA, or in particular, ice, it can lead you on a genuine path to physical and mental damage.
Even though there are claims by those who agree with doing the testing that it doesn’t increase drug use at all if at these music but you can go and have your pills tested and be told whether they are ‘safe’ or not.
People can have a reaction to any drug. There are no safe illicit drugs. And I think that's a very important message.
You can die, you can suffer seizures, you can have adverse reactions to the very first drug or it can lead to catastrophic outcomes, precisely as the ads and evidence show.
There is help and there is a way back.
It's a really interesting focus of this campaign. The pathways out and also the education of parents who don't know what they are looking for in many cases.
Minister, thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks very much.