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The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’

Published 28th February, 2019

The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ will investigate the nature, prevalence and impact of the drug in NSW.

The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ was established by Letters Patent dated 28 November 2018, appointing Professor Dan Howard SC to inquire into and report to the Governor by 30 September 2019 on the following terms of reference:

  • the nature, prevalence and impact of crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) in NSW
  • the adequacy of existing measures to target ice in NSW
  • options to strengthen NSW’s response to ice, including law enforcement, education, treatment and rehabilitation responses.

The Letters Patent also required the Commissioner to consult with communities and stakeholders on or before 31 January 2019 on detailed terms of reference for the conduct of the Inquiry for consideration by the Premier. The Special Commission received more than 100 written responses as part of that consultation process from communities and stakeholders.

Updated terms of reference

Following this preliminary consultation, the Governor issued further Letters Patent on 28 February 2019 extending the time that the Commissioner is to report to the Governor to 28 October 2019 and varying the terms of reference as follows:

  • The nature, prevalence and impact of crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) and other illicit amphetamine type stimulants (‘ATS’)
  • the adequacy of existing measures to target ice and illicit ATS (including illicit use of licit ATS in NSW
  • options to strengthen NSW’s response to ice and such ATS, including law enforcement, education, treatment and rehabilitation responses.

In conducting the inquiry the Commissioner will:

1. Establish and consult with an expert advisory panel, including:

  • at least one member with expertise in health, drug addiction, treatment and rehabilitation
  • at least one member with expertise in drug education and harm minimisation
  • at least one member with expertise in law enforcement
  • at least one member who represents an Aboriginal organisation or community group
  • such other members as the Commissioner considers would be of assistance.

2. Consider any drug-related recommendations from any NSW inquest held during the course of the inquiry.

3. Consider relevant NSW and Commonwealth reports, the findings of past inquiries and other relevant existing material.

4. Consider relevant international literature (including reports, research, and other materials), experience and practice.

5. Prepare and publish as soon as practicable an issues paper and to call for public submissions on the issues paper to be made in good time so as to allow the Commissioner to complete the final report.

6. Consult and/or meet various stakeholders and others.

7. Conduct formal hearings in public and, if appropriate, in private, to examine witnesses and other interested persons to take place in Sydney and elsewhere, including some of the particular regions where the drug 'ice' is identified as being a significant issue.

8. Prepare and deliver a final report that considers the information, submissions and evidence, and which makes appropriate findings and recommendations under the terms of reference.

This webpage provides information about the work of the Special Commission, and how you can engage with the Special Commission, including how submissions can be made, and when and where hearing will be held.

About us

Commissioner
Professor Dan Howard SC

Professor Dan Howard SC

Professor Dan Howard SC was President of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) from 2012-16 and is a former Acting Judge of the District Court of NSW.

Professor Howard is a Senior Counsel at the NSW Bar, a Visiting Professorial Fellow with the School of Law at the University of Wollongong and a Conjoint Associate Professor in the School of Psychiatry at the University of NSW, where he teaches in the Masters of Forensic Mental Health program. He is a former NSW Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor.

In 2011-12 Professor Howard was a member of the NSW Minister for Mental Health’s Taskforce to Establish the NSW Mental Health Commission. In 2012-13 he was extensively involved in the Review of the Mental Health Act and in 2007 was a member of the Expert Reference Group established for the review and in his capacity as President of the MHRT.

Professor Howard is the co-author of the textbook Crime and Mental Health Law in New South Wales (3rd edition Lexis Nexis, 2018) and the author of R v Milat – a case study in cross-examination (Lexis Nexis, 2014).

Counsel Assisting

Sally Dowling SC
Nick Kelly
Damian Beaufils

Solicitor Assisting

NSW Crown Solicitor's Office

Chief Operating Officer

David McGrath

Contact

Information about the Special Commission, including details about public hearings and the Terms of reference, is available on this webpage.

If you have additional questions, you can contact the Special Commission:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: (02) 9228 3333 (between 8:30am-5pm AEDT, Monday to Friday except on public holidays)
  • Mail: Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’
    GPO Box 5341
    Sydney NSW 2001

Engagement

The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ wants to hear from communities and stakeholders in NSW about their experiences of and ideas about how to strengthen the response to Ice and other amphetamine type stimulants (‘ATS’), including MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamine, methamphetamine in all its forms (whether in the crystal form known as ‘Ice’, or other forms such as powder, paste, pill or liquid) and including illicit use of prescription amphetamine type substances such as used in management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Special Commission is currently preparing an Issues Paper which will be available on this website on 26 March 2019. We will invite submissions from stakeholders, communities and the public in response to the Issues Paper. In addition to submissions and hearings, the Special Commission will undertake a series of meetings to engage with stakeholders. Roundtable meetings with particular interest groups and experts will also be conducted during the course of the Inquiry, details of which will be available on this page.

Expert Advisory Panel

An Expert Advisory Panel has been established to provide advice to the Commissioner and Special Commission on priority issues raised by the terms of reference, stakeholder identification and engagement, the content of an issues paper, evidence gathering and the content of the Special Commission’s final report and recommendations.

The Panel will be chaired by the Commissioner and consists of members:

  • with expertise in health, drug addiction, treatment and rehabilitation
  • with expertise in drug education and harm minimisation
  • with expertise in law enforcement
  • who represent an Aboriginal organisation or community group
  • such other members as the Commissioner considers would be of assistance to the Inquiry.

The first meeting of the Expert Advisory Panel will be held on 4 March 2019.

Download the terms of reference [PDF, 247KB]

The following persons have been selected for the Panel:

Andrew Scipione AO APM

Former Commissioner of the NSW Police Force

Judge Dina Yehia SC,

District Court Judge

Nicholas Cowdery AM QC

Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions

Howard Brown

Victims Advocate

Professor Michael Farrell

Director National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

Dr Bruce Westmore

Forensic Psychiatrist

Professor Steve Allsop

Director National Drug Research Institute - Curtin University

Garth Popple

Executive Director We Help Ourselves

Dr Nadine Ezard

Clinical Director Alcohol and Drug Service - Vincent’s Hospital, Director National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs

Dr Hester Wilson

Chair Specific Interests Addiction Medicine Network – Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Peter Bodor QC

Assistant Commissioner (Legal) NSW Crime Commission 

Veronica Ganora

Consumer Representative

Dr Richard Matthews

Associate Professor at the UNSW School of Psychiatry

Dr Jeff Snars

Concord Centre for Mental Health

Mr Martin Nean

Aboriginal Health Representative

Dr Simon Longstaff

Executive Director of The Ethics Centre

First Nations Advisory Committee

A First Nations Advisory Committee has been established to provide advice to the Commissioner and the Special Commission on best practice in engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities on the issues raised by the Commission’s terms of reference.  The Committee consists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have experience:

  • in the health system particularly in drug treatment
  • in the criminal justice system
  • working with young people
  • working with elders
  • such other members as the Commissioner sees fit.

The first meeting of the First Nations Advisory Committee will be on 11 March 2019.

Download the terms of reference [PDF, 341KB]

Government Liaison Group

The Government Liaison Group will advise the Special Commission on the availability of information and evidence related to issues raised by the terms of reference of the Special Commission.

In particular, the Government Liaison Group will be asked to provide advice regarding: 

  • available data and other evidence related to relevant issues the Commission is to examine
  • identifying stakeholders
  • the most appropriate process for facilitating access to witnesses
  • the most appropriate process for coordinating information requests within agencies.

The Liaison Group is to consist of senior executive staff from NSW Government agencies likely to be involved in the provision of information to the Special Commission.

The Government Liaison Group is expected to meet only once throughout the course of the Special Commission’s work. 

Hearings

The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ will hold public and private hearings in Sydney, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Lismore, Nowra and the Hunter Region.

The details of these hearings will be published on this page to assist witnesses and members of the public.

Directions Hearing and Opening Addresses (Counsel Assisting only) 

Date: 28 March 2019

Address: Hearing room
Level 3, Records Wing
Registrar-General’s Building
1 Prince Albert Road
Sydney NSW 2000

Time: 10am to 1pm

No applications for authorisation to appear will be entertained.

Directions Hearing

Date: 17 April 2019 

Address: Hearing room
Level 3, Records Wing
Registrar-General’s Building
1 Prince Albert Road
Sydney NSW 2000

Time: 10am

Determination of Applications for Authorisation to Appear.

Confirmation of Public Hearing Dates/ Locations/ Scope.

Public hearings of the Special Commission will be open to the public although seating will be limited. Public hearings will also be streamed live through this site.

Note: Please allow at least 10 minutes for security screening if you are planning to attend the hearing. This is important to ensure thorough security procedures are accommodated and timely arrival at the hearing.

Transcripts and Witness List

Witness lists and transcripts of public hearings will be uploaded to this page once available.

Practice Guidelines

The Commissioner will issue Practice Guidelines to assist parties, witnesses and members of the public involved with the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’.

DateNumberDescriptionDownload

28 February 2019

PG1

Providing information to the Special Commission

28 February 2019

PG2

Hearings                  

28 February 2019

PG3

Authorisation to appear at public hearings 

Support

The following services are available to anyone who is experiencing concern or distress from their participation in or issues that emerge during the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’:

OrganisationContact details

National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline. It will automatically direct you to the Alcohol and Drug Information Service in your state or territory. These local alcohol and other drug telephone services offer support, information, counselling and referral to services.

Phone: 1800 250 015

Kids Help Line

Kids Help Line telephone, web and email counselling is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to children and young people of Australia aged between 5–25 years of age.

Phone: 1800 55 1800

ReachOut

ReachOut has information about drugs, where to seek help, how to help a friend, and many other youth related issues.

Headspace

Headspace provides information and counselling services with anything to do with alcohol, drugs, education, employment and general or mental health. It’s for 12–25 year olds and has centres all around Australia.

Lifeline

Lifeline is a 24-hour phone and online counselling service designed to help anyone through all problems.

Phone: 13 11 14

Sane

Sane has a helpline and website that provides information and support for mental health issues.

Phone: 1800 18 7263

National Drugs Campaign

The Australian Government website provides information about illicit drugs and campaign resources.

Cracks in the Ice

Cracks in the Ice is an online toolkit providing trusted, evidence-based, and up-to-date information about crystal methamphetamine (ice) for the Australian community.

Counselling Online

Counselling Online allows you to communicate with a professional counsellor about an alcohol or drug related concern using text interaction. This service is free for anyone seeking help with their own drug use or the drug use of a family member, relative, or friend. Counselling Online is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week across Australia.

Australian Drug Information Network

The Australian Drug Information Network website provides a directory of places in all states and territories in Australia, where it is possible to seek information and services to assist with alcohol and other drug related issues.

Drug Info

Drug Info provides information about alcohol and other drugs. They also provide a SMS service where you can text the name of a drug to the number below and receive a reply listing a number of the drug’s effects and links to find further information.

Family Drug Support

Family Drug Support provides information and support for families of drug and alcohol users, including a 24hour support line.

Phone: 1300 368 186

Drug and Alcohol Specialist Advisory Service

The Drug and Alcohol Specialist Advisory Service (DASAS) is a clinician only service where health professionals such as General Practitioners can get advice from addiction medicine specialist on how to manage patients in their services.

Phone:

  • Sydney Metropolitan: (02) 9361 8006
  • Regional and rural NSW: 1800 023 687

Mental Health Line

The Mental Health Line is a 24-hour telephone service operating seven days a week across NSW. The service provides access to mental health professionals, connection with local care services and support for carers and professionals.

Phone: 1800 011 511

Drug and Alcohol Services

To access a local public drug and alcohol service, please contact your local health district:

Central Coast - (02) 4394 4880

Illawarra Shoalhaven - 1300 652 226

Nepean Blue Mountains - 1300 661 050 (24/7 service)

Northern Sydney - 1300 889 788

South Eastern Sydney - (02) 9332 8777 (Northern) (02) 9113 2944 (Central)

South Western Sydney - (02) 9616 8586

Sydney - 1800 793 466

Western Sydney - (02) 9840 3355

Far West - 1300 662 263

Hunter New England - 1300 660 059

Mid North Coast - 1300 662 263

Murrumbidgee - 1800 800 944

Northern NSW - (02) 6620 7600

Southern NSW - 1800 809 423

Western NSW - 1300 887 000

Miscellaneous

Find information and contact details for other mental health and drug and alcohol services in NSW.

Terms of reference

Download the terms of reference (PDF, 442KB)

Published 28th February, 2019
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