Child protection workers are receiving special training to deal with methamphetamine users, as concerns about the drug ice and its devastating impact on Victorian communities grows.
The Department of Human Services says it is training front-line staff to engage ”safely and effectively” with people under the influence of methamphetamine, or ice.
Concerns about the drug have also prompted the department to distribute guidelines drawn up by the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. ”The guidelines cover what to do before, during, and after contact with a person using methamphetamines, and provide information on appropriate risk assessment, risk prevention, de-escalation and control techniques,” a department spokesman said.
Anglicare Victoria general manager of family and community services David Giles said overburdened child protection workers were unable to always intervene in cases of children living with ice users.
He said Anglicare Victoria, which has made a submission to the state parliamentary inquiry on the supply and use of ice, said its staff had to exercise great care when visiting users, who could become very aggressive and hyper-sexualised.
The drug ”terribly compromised” a parent’s ability to look after their children,” Mr Giles said.
”They can be very abusive and very neglectful. It tends to follow their sleep cycle, they might be awake for a few days, then asleep for a few days.”
Community and Public Sector Union industrial organiser Will Wyatt said front-line child protection staff were deeply concerned about ice, and it was a big problem in Mildura and Bendigo.
He said ice users had increased the anxiety of workers. ”It makes dealing with complicated clients even more complicated.”
He criticised state government cuts to the department’s support staff and called for better training to help staff negotiate with ice users.
Veteran youth worker Les Twentyman recently highlighted the workplace dangers of the drug, telling the parliamentary inquiry on ice that a user had hurled a petrol bomb at him.
”It was a stubby full of petrol and alight. It smashed beside me, but I was able to lock myself in the office. It turned out that this woman, in her paranoia, thought I was dealing drugs to her daughter.”
This article first appeared on ‘The Age’ on 22 January 2014.