Health experts demand action on drugs

Drug and alcohol experts are warning of growing problems in Melbourne’s west and say studies to understand the issues are desperately needed.

Associate Professor Craig Fry from Victoria University’s Centre for Cultural Diversity & Wellbeing said anecdotal evidence pointed to growing problems with methamphetamines and other substance abuse.

“The clinicians and support workers I speak to in the West are saying that methamphetamines are a growing problem out here and urgently needs to be dealt with,” he said.

“But even if those on the ground are reporting this we still only have a patchy picture of the drug trends, patterns of use and related harms that exist in this region. It’s this lack of evidence that is holding back appropriate action.”

Associate Professor Fry said much of the available drug research data was ‘metro focussed’ and therefore not detailed enough to use for responding to issues specific to the western suburbs.

Associate Professor Fry is Convenor of the new Western Alcohol and Other Drug Health Research Network. The network is bringing together drug and health researchers and practitioners from across the region to push for a more informed and comprehensive response to the region’s drug and alcohol problems.

“The significance of this network is that it will truly be ‘of the west, for the west’ with a focus on harnessing local expertise in research, health and social services to address local problems,” he said.  

The network is currently consulting community groups and potential partners to establish its scope and membership.

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