Rehab program queried

By Grace Jones | posted on March 28, 2019

ALBANY’S Ice Breakers methamphetamine rehabilitation program trial period has been extended for a further nine months despite a former program facilitator being jailed for a meth related crime this year and another facing alleged meth related charges.

Premier Mark McGowan announced $360,000 funding for the program during a visit to Albany in May 2017 for a two-year trial period.

Ice Breakers founder Jamie Coyne was jailed for three and a half years for assaulting an Albany man while under the influence of meth after Albany District Court sentenced him in March.

Craig Golding is also facing a string of alleged meth related crimes with 15 counts of offering to sell methylamphetamine while he was a facilitator of the program.

A spokesperson for Premier McGowan did not comment on Mr Coyne’s actions or Mr Golding’s alleged crimes but said during the period between July to December 2018 “101 people received treatment and support” which was “above the annual target of 60”.

“The Ice Breakers program funding of $360,000 over two years was provided for a two year trial,” they said.

“The Mental Health Commission grant agreement ends on 30 June 2019, however, the grant funding will be sufficient for the program trial to continue to March 2020.

“The Ice Breakers program trial and performance will be evaluated and any further funding will then be considered as part of the normal budget process.”

The spokesperson said, “alcohol and other drug issues is a complex issue”.

Shadow Minister for Health and Mental Health Sean L’Estrange said target intervention, support and “breaking the chain” of dealers was essential to helping recovering meth addicts.

“Getting these people into rehab is vital,” he said.

“The McGowan Government made the commitment for the Ice Breakers program and they need to justify the competency of the program.

“The Premier and Minister for Health should have followed a due process and consulted with experts in the field before providing the funding.”

Mr L’Estrange said the question he had was whether or not there was proper due diligence while assessing the program.

“There should have been experts independent of politics consulting,” he said.

“If the Labor Government didn’t do that they should not have allowed the funding. The conduct of those individuals facilitating the program is unacceptable.

“Why is there still funding for the Ice Breakers program?”

Mr L’Estrange said the Premier needed to reassure the public that the Ice Breakers program was still viable if it was to continue until 2020.

“The last thing parents and loved ones want is to worry whether their child, relative or friend is exposed to further harm in a drug rehabilitation program,” he said.

“Mr McGowan needs to explain to the public what due process they followed before the funding was awarded.

“He needs to explain and justify to us how the program was appointed.”

The spokesperson for the Premier said the State Government was “committed to addressing methamphetamine issues in Western Australia”.

“Funding of $131.7 million [was] allocated from 2017-2018 to 2021-22, for the implementation of its Methamphetamine Action Plan and related initiatives,” they said.

“This includes fast-tracking the opening of 19 new residential beds in the South West, which opened in January 2019.”

Mr L’Estrange said the Labor Government had cut $154,000 in funding to the Meth Helpline.

“One in four calls to the helpline were going unanswered and he still cut the funding,” he said.

“They have been cutting the funding for helping people with meth addictions.

“It’s up to the McGowan Government to justify their expenditure.”