A Current Affair to 'stigmatise' Byron community
ORGANISERS of an information summit about the drug ice in Byron Bay are dismayed to hear A Current Affair report airing tonight is set to demonise the popular coastal town.
The 'Breaking the ICE Byron Community Forum, is being hosted by the BUDDI Community Drug Action Team and will be held on Thursday at the Byron Services Club from 5.30 to 9pm.
BUDDI team leader Nicqui Yazdi said the very purpose of the forum was to dispel myths and misconception about the drug so that people could lose the stigma normally attached to ice use and seek help.
"The thing is our forum is about de-stigmatising and creating helpful actions in the community," Yazdi said.
"Now all of these forums have had the same key message which is 'see the person, not the drug'.
"Unfortunately when you get shows like A Current Affair - what they are trying to do is sensationalise and create fear and it is unreasonable.
"We want people to see the positive side of what a community can do."
Ms Yazdi said the Byron Bay ice statistics were nowhere near as bad as other areas and this offered a unique opportunity to get in early and educate people about where to get help and how to beat the drug.
The panel will consist of Annie Bleeker of the Alcohol & Drug Foundation, author of best-selling book Breaking the ICE Matt Noffs, the manager Tweed/Byron Drug & Alcohol Northern NSW Local Health District Mitch Dobbie, senior project officer with the North Coast Primary Health Network Sam Booker and Byron Hospital senior emergency doctor Dr Blake Eddington.
Ms Bleeker said that because of the stigma around 'Ice' use family and friends were even afraid to get help and that the community had a bigger part to play in humanising drug users and supporting them to get help.
"One of the concerns we have about the ACA piece is that that will further stigmatise the town as well as drug users which contradictory to what our key messages are.
"We are really focused on the community fighting the fear with the facts and it is not necessarily helpful for users and the community to be stigmatised like that.
"We know that on average it takes someone who is dependant on crystal methamphetamine between five and ten years before they access treatment and if we further stigmatise it, it is going to make them less likely to come forward.
"You look at the trailer it is pretty sensational.
"Words like epidemic are really not helpful."