Supporters rally around Ice Breakers

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Ice Breakers Jess Preston, Helen Miller, Margaret Gordon, Molly Hatfield and Tom Duggan.
Camera IconIce Breakers Jess Preston, Helen Miller, Margaret Gordon, Molly Hatfield and Tom Duggan. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Albany MP Peter Watson says WA PCYC’s decision to part ways with Albany’s meth rehabilitation program Ice Breakers is “disappointing news”.

Last month, WA PCYC’s executive director David van Ooran announced the organisation would stop managing Ice Breakers when the program’s Mental Health Commission funding expired in March.

The announcement blindsided Ice Breakers founder Margaret Gordon and could hurt the prospects of the program’s funding being renewed.

“It’s disappointing news for all those people who have worked hard to support the program,” Mr Watson said.

“The program has consistently exceeded the key performance indicators set by the Mental Health Commission under the funding agreement and has been embraced by the Albany community.

“I’ve spoken to both the Premier and the Minister for Mental Health, about working with the Mental Health Commission to make sure there are services in Albany to help get people off this life-destroying drug.”

Speaking in Albany on Friday, Premier Mark McGowan said his Government would monitor the situation following the WA PCYC’s announcement.

“That’s a decision for the PCYC but it was obviously a trial, and we will monitor how the trial goes and ensure through the Mental Health Commission that we have proper services for people who want to get themselves off that insidious drug,” Mr McGowan said.

Both Mr McGowan and Mr Watson have come out in support of Ice Breakers in the past, including in December when they backed the program in the wake of the publicised relapse of a former facilitator.

Ms Gordon said she was not consulted by PCYC before the decision was announced two weeks ago. An email sent to her by WA PCYC president Geoffrey Stooke said the announcement was made months in advance to give Ice Breakers time to find an alternative provider.

“We will assist, where possible, to identify an alternative organisation to deliver the program,” Mr Stooke said.

Mr Stooke said the decision was “not taken lightly and had the support of all board members and WA Police”.

Former meth dealer and addict Tom Duggan, 58, told the Advertiser he would be “lost” without Ice Breakers. Mr Duggan is in training to be a facilitator.

“We would love to see the world with no addicts but it’s an impossible dream,” Mr Duggan said.

“But, if ... we can have a world with one less addict out there, we’ve made a difference.

“The ripple effect of that one person — he can go and have kids without drugs in his life.”

The mother of an addict contacted Ms Gordon after learning of WA PCYC’s decision.

The mother, Loralie, said it was a “dreadful, awful mistake”.

“Ice Breakers saved my family, saved me, they helped repair damaged relationships,” Loralie said.

“Ice Breakers has given children back to mothers and fathers and family. It’s returned recovering addicts to their children.”

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