Drug dealers targeting homeless on the Tweed
ICE dealers have upped their game among the homeless, preying on them in parks and on city streets, with service providers warning things will only get worse in the lead-up to Christmas.
Spokesmen for St John's Crisis Centre, the Salvos and Transformations rehabilitation centre, all on the Gold Coast, as well as You Have a Friend at the Tweed, confirmed a worrying rise in ice use among the destitute.
You Have a Friend founder John Lee said he too was concerned about the rise in ice use among the homeless his charity helped at Coolangatta, Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads.
"There's definitely an increase and there's no sign of it dropping," he said.
"As soon as these guys get their money, the dealers are there in the parks, following them around.
"The police need to be targeting the dealers - the main big boys selling ice to the homeless.
"Fortunately not all the homeless are buying ice.
"Many of them have asked me to help them stop the ice epidemic."
Rev Jon Brook, of St John's in Surfers Paradise, said he and his team had seen an increase in those seeking help.
"We've always had a handful of homeless people taking ice but we are seeing more and more," he said.
"We're regularly feeding up to 70 people a day.
"I guess it's because it's warmer and more homeless people are moving here."
Rev Brook said the issue was raised with him by other concerned delegates at the recent homeless symposium at Carrara.
Salvos' Gold Coast Recovery Services manager Major David Rogerson said he too had seen a general increase in ice use.
He attributed this in part to its availability and the fact it was so easy to access.
"We had one of our guys who went through our program who was doing very well," he said.
"Then he disappeared for several days.
"We made calls to the police and found him on the street using ice, which wasn't his drug of choice.
"He was living homeless with another guy and they were using it together.
"He's in his late 40s and decided to try ice for the first time. Now he's living rough and using alcohol as well."
Mr Rogerson warned ice use among the homeless would definitely increase as Christmas came closer.
"Loneliness and isolation is a killer," he said.
"People numb their pain with drugs."
Transformations at Surfers Paradise chief executive Michael Barrett said he had also noticed a rise in ice abuse among the homeless, which was part of a general rise across the city.
"Their drug of choice used to be pot and alcohol but ice has replaced most of that among the homeless," he said.
"Police are doing a good job with heroin and cocaine busts but unfortunately meth can be made in pop-up labs, so it's more difficult to control.
"It's hard to know how the homeless are paying for their ice but it is cheaper. A $30 hit will last them 10-12 hours."