‘Ice destroyed my life’: recovering ice addict and former dealer speaks out

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3 million Australians have sampled the drug ice – which is now officially the most problematic illicit substance in the country, according to the Australian Crime Commission.

The alarming statistics form part of Australia’s first national intelligence report into the so-called “ice epidemic”.

In releasing the landmark report in Canberra today, Justice Minister Michael Keenan noted the drug ice touches “all stratas” of Australian society.

Twenty-five year old Melbourne woman Melinda Hansen is a prime example. 

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After a private school education, she lived in London for two years where she says cocaine use was regular. 

Upon returning to Australia she found the drug ice more accessible and cheaper.

“One point could cost $80 to $100,” she said. 

Melinda is now nine-months “clean” and is helping others in a Melbourne-based residential rehabilitation program.

Reflecting on her introduction to the drug, she says – at the time – puffing on an ice-pipe seemed socially acceptable, but it led to a life-changing journey of unwanted media attention, intravenous drug use and jail.

“Stripped me of my confidence, my self-esteem, it tore away my family and my friends and destroyed my life,” Ms Hansen said. 

At the time of her arrest, Melinda was living in an upmarket Melbourne hotel which was raided by police. They discovered what they described as equipment “suitable for the manufacture of methylamphetamine.”

The media likened the arrangement to something out of Breaking Bad. Melinda was dubbed the “Chapel Street dealer”, making her introduction to prison-life even more challenging.

“It was really confronting that I was about to walk into jail. I’d never ever been to jail before and to know that the whole yard was about to be talking about me,” she said. 

Full interview with recovering ice addicts Melinda Hansen and Tom Liddicoat 0:00 Share Sadly, lives ruined or ended by ice are increasingly common.

The Australian Crime Commission report says seizures of the drug and pre-cursor chemicals are at record levels.

“We have trans-national groups coming from nearly 50 countries who are importing drugs and/or involved in the manufacture or trafficing within Australia,” Crime Commission Chief Executive Chris Dawson told SBS.

Criminologist and associate professor John Fitzgerald cautions against approaching the ice problem solely from a law-and order perspective.

“What we’re seeing – we’re detecting a whole lot more drug crime but it’s probably related to the fact that police are putting a whole lot more energy in discovering the problem in the first place,” he said.

Associate professor Fitzgerald says community interventions and ice-specific rehabilitation are crucial elements of the debate, and the govenment concedes an “all-agency” approach is necessary.

Drug counsellor Carlo La Marchesina agrees. He fears the ice situation will worsen unless government funding is significantly increased. 

“If we don’t take care of this situation now we’re going to create a generation of aggressive zombies,” he said.

Melinda Hansen is now on a 18-month community corrections order, and has been ordered to perform 200 hours of community service work.

She now plans to use her first-hand experience of ice to will help others.

“Be able to share what I’ve gone through and help them get a chance to open their lives to the opportunities of recovery,” she said.


Watch The Feed’s award-winning documentary ‘Ice Towns’The rise of crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, is devastating regional Victoria. It is a drug that is most often associated with bigger cities but ice is also infiltrating small towns such as Horsham and Shepparton, destroying families and communities.  0:00 Share

Barnett lacked diplomacy over GST: Labor

WA Labor has slammed Colin Barnett for not being more diplomatic in his stoush with fellow premiers over the states’ carve-up of the GST.


The premier went into the COAG meeting on Friday hoping to win support for a change in the way GST revenue is distributed, given WA’s share is set to fall from less than 38 cents in the dollar to below 30 cents in 2015/16.

But he came away only with a promise of further talks with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the hint that some infrastructure funds might be available for WA.

State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Mr Barnett should have been more diplomatic.

“The premier’s behaviour has been embarrassing but what is more embarrassing is the fact that he’s come away with no outcome for WA,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

“With a Liberal prime minister and a Liberal premier, you’d think we’d get a better outcome than we have but we’ve got zip.

“Mr Barnett’s behaviour succeeded in uniting Liberal and Labor governments around Australia against us.”

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten said the premiers should have conducted themselves more maturely “than a bunch of schoolboys yelling at each other”, but reserved special blame for Mr Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey for telling the states and territories to duke it out between themselves.

“Today’s premier’s conference and the lead-up to it has been such a disillusioning affair for Australians,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Barnett told ABC radio a lower GST share meant WA would probably have to cut capital works programs, reduce spending generally, “withdraw from some arrangements” and focus more on its trade relationships with Asia.

Africans rally against xenophobia

(Transcript from World News Radio)


Rallies against xenophobia have been taking place across the African continent with concern over the deaths of five foreigners in South Africa.



The largest rally took place in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban where almost five thousand people marched through the streets.


Greg Dyett reports.


At least five people have been killed and foreign-owned shops looted in recent weeks in a country that has an unemployment rate of 24 per cent.


Some of those without work in South Africa accuse foreigners of taking jobs in the country at their expense.


South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, has told parliament no amount of frustration or anger can justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops.


At the Durban rally, local resident Joe says the xenophobia is extremely worrying.


“This is too much, too much like disorder and chaos and stuff like that. (Guys) need to… just unite under a peaceful kind of format instead of lashing out in anger, I suppose.”


In Johannesburg, a local mayor Mondli Gungubele called on protesters to obey the law.


“When Africa is stable and Africa is at peace, there is a chance for prosperity, and we are saying to our people let’s stop doing this. We are saying to those who are doing it they must know the law would not play games with them.”


“Stop Xenophobia in South Africa. Stop Xenophobia in South Africa. Stop Xenophobia in South Africa.”


These pleas have been chanted in Nigeria, where an anti-xenophobia rally took place in the city of Lagos.


This man says Nigerians are keen to show their solidarity with those in South Africa who are opposing the violence.


“What is happening here is our way of condemning in the strongest terms xenophobia in South Africa. I don’t believe Africans deserve what they’re going through in South Africa because Africans, particularly Nigeria, was in the forefront of the war of the fight against apartheid. You know Nigeria contributed resources, you know manpower, everything, you know even empathy, in the fight against apartheid and I believe what is happening there is not the best way to repay, you know, the sacrifices of Africans and Nigerians.”


And in Ethiopia, there were similar sentiments from the country’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.


“We as Africans, we all feel that we have contributed for the liberation of South Africa from the yoke of colonisation and apartheid. So, Africans should come together and should live everywhere where they want to live, of course based on the laws and regulations of that specific country. But, we feel that this is an incident and that incident can be taken care of by the ruling party the ANC, as well as the government.”


Plan to expand MH370 search area

(Transcript from World News Radio)


Australia, China and Malaysia say they’ll double the search area for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 if wreckage is not found in the current target area.



Mystery still surrounds the jetliner’s fate, which disappeared without a trace in March last year with 239 people on board.


Darren Mara reports on the latest in the efforts to find the plane.


Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has faced the media in Kuala Lumpur, alongside the Chinese and Malaysian transport ministers.


His Malaysian counterpart, Liow Tiong Lai, had this message for the families of those on board the missing flight.


“All three nations are committed to the search for MH370. If we cannot locate the aircraft within the 60,000 square kilometres, we will continue the second phase of another 60,000 square kilometre search. So, this is the commitment given by the three governments.”


About 60 per cent of the current zone in the Indian Ocean off the West Australian coast has been searched.


It’s investigators’ best guess as to where the plane might have crashed.


It’s thought the first search phase will be finished some time in May.


Warren Truss is involved in the search in his capacity as federal minister for transport.


He says expanding the search zone would cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis.


“So there is no change in the search zone, we are just moving, like Minister Liow said, to widen out the search area and to extend it in every direction.”


The second phase of the search would cost an estimated 50 million dollars, which would be shared by Malaysia and Australia.


Mr Truss says it’s expected the second search zone would take at least the rest of this year to scour.


But, he says, if MH370 is there, they’ll find it.


“I am very confident that we have the best search equipment in the world and if the aircraft is in the area that we’re looking in we will find it. The high resolution of the picture that the ministers have been shown today gives us a high level of confidence that if there is any piece of the aircraft that’s within the range of these vehicles, they will pick it up and be able to identify it.”


Mr Truss says he remains optimistic search teams will be able to recover the aircraft, which vanished from radar screens shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing.


Investigators believe it was flown thousands of miles off course before eventually crashing.


Four vessels equipped with sophisticated underwater drones have been searching a previously unmapped expanse of rugged sea floor, but have been unable to yield results.


Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuantang says search teams haven’t given up hope of finding MH370.


(translated) “We will have a more positive attitude and adopt more positive measures to search for the plane. For instance, we will select and dispatch capable vehicles and vessels, and transform certain devices and equipment in efforts to find the plane.”



Migrants killed in ‘religious clash’ on Mediterranean boat

Forty-one more deaths were reported in a separate incident.


Police in the Sicilian capital Palermo said they had arrested the men, from Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal, after survivors reported they had thrown 12 people from Nigeria and Ghana to their deaths and threatened other Christians.

The 15 were arrested on charges of multiple homicide motivated by religious hatred.

“The motive for the resentment was traced to their faiths,” police said. “Twelve people are said to have drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean, all of them Nigerian and Ghanaian.”

The survivors’ account underscores the rising chaos in the Mediterranean, which thousands of migrants, many fleeing war and deprivation in Africa, try to cross in rickety boats in the hope of a better life in Europe.

Around 20,000 migrants have reached the Italian coast this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates, fewer than arrived in the first four months of last year, but the number of deaths has risen almost nine-fold.

Almost 450 people are now thought to have died this week after rescued migrants brought to the Sicilian port of Trapani on Thursday said 41 others travelling with them had drowned.

About 400 died earlier this week when passengers crowded to one side of their boat, causing it to capsize, survivors said.

Traffickers take advantage of a breakdown of order in Libya to charge some $1,000 for every migrant to whom they give a passage. Some also turn violent, threatening coast guards with machine guns to avoid having their boats confiscated.

The murder suspects were among almost 100 migrants brought to Palermo on Wednesday. The arrests were made on the basis of testimony from about 10 survivors, who said they had left Libya in a rubber boat on Tuesday, police said.

Italy phased out a dedicated maritime search and rescue operation called “Mare Nostrum” or “Our Sea” late last year, making way for a European Union border control mission.

The EU operation, called Triton, has been criticised by humanitarian groups and Italian authorities as it has a much smaller budget and a narrower remit than Mare Nostrum.


ASADA fumes after tribunal’s Dank findings

ASADA has suffered another blow, making its frustration and disappointment clear with the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s verdicts on sports scientist Stephen Dank.


The tribunal found Dank guilty of 10 out of 31 doping-related charges.

Dank oversaw Essendon’s controversial 2012 supplements regime.

“ASADA is disappointed in the tribunal’s decision to clear Mr Dank of a number of serious alleged violations,” the national anti-doping body said in a statement.

The tribunal’s verdicts, released late on Friday afternoon, come only four days before ASADA has to decide whether it will appeal against the same tribunal’s not-guilty findings on 34 current and past Essendon players.

When the tribunal announced those not-guilty verdicts on March 31, the AFL indicated the Dank verdicts would be announced after Easter.

The Dank verdicts were made public at 5pm (AEST) on Friday and ASADA said it received them at 3.30.

“ASADA notes that all 35 matters (Dank and the 34 players) were heard concurrently by the tribunal,” the anti-doping body said.

“We also note the tribunal stated its preference was to release their decisions on all 35 matters at the same time.

“The reality however is that we have only just received the findings on Mr Dank.

“ASADA is disappointed that this comes as the window of appeal on the first 34 matters rapidly closes.

“ASADA will now consider both decisions in their totality.”

The day after the players were found not guilty, ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt said his organisation wanted to examine the tribunal’s Dank findings before making the call on whether it appealed against the players’ verdicts.

Once ASADA’s 21-day appeal window closes, the World Anti-Doping Agency also has 21 days to consider its own appeal against the player verdicts.

Crucially, the tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that Dank administered the banned substance Thymosin beta-4 to any Essendon players.

ASADA had also charged the Essendon players with taking Thymosin beta-4.

Those charges were laid after a two-year joint ASADA-AFL investigation and the players’ not guilty verdicts were a major setback for the anti-doping body.

Dank refused to cooperate with the investigation and did not appear at his tribunal hearing.

He has threatened legal action of his own and said earlier this week that he was waiting for the tribunal verdicts before deciding what to do.

Dank has repeatedly insisted he did nothing wrong at Essendon.

The tribunal found Dank guilty of trafficking banned substances to staff at Essendon.

It was also comfortably satisfied that Dank trafficked a banned substance to an unnamed Carlton support person in 2012.

As well, Dank was found guilty of attempting to traffic a banned substance to support staff at Gold Coast.

And he was found guilty of trafficking offences in baseball.

Finally, Dank was found guilty of trafficking the banned substances GHRP6 and Mechano Growth Factor to customers at the Medical Rejuvenation Clinic.

“The breaches include trafficking, attempting to traffic and complicity in matters related to a range of prohibited substances,” the AFL said in a statement.

The three-man tribunal’s verdict was unanimous. It will sit again on May 5 to decide penalty.

Bad boys Chelsea show lack of respect to referees

Chelsea, who have a seven-point lead in the Premier League with seven games remaining, have received widespread criticism for their attitude towards referees this season despite Mourinho suggesting they are victims of a ‘campaign’ by the FA and media.


The data, complied by FA Fair Play delegates who attend every Premier League match, shows Chelsea have the least respect towards match officials, the Telegraph reported.

Teams are marked out of seven when assessing behaviour towards the referee and his assistants, and Chelsea have a respect mark of 159 compared to Liverpool’s 181, which makes Brendan Rodgers’s side the most respectful towards officials.

“A positive attitude, including the acceptance of doubtful decisions without protest, will be rewarded with high marks,” guidelines published on the Premier League website state.

“Normal behaviour without any particular positive attitudes or gestures towards match officials is likely to receive a score of 6 rather than 7.”

Chelsea are also the second worst team when it comes to the behaviour of club staff on the touchline, with struggling Sunderland the only side above them.

Mourinho’s assistant Rui Faria appeared to celebrate Cesc Fabregas’s late winner right in front of opposition manager Chris Ramsey in Sunday’s west London derby against Queens Park Rangers.

“Positive and negative aspects of the team officials’ conduct will be assessed — such as whether they calm down or provoke angry players or fans and how they accept the decisions of the referee,” the guidelines state.

“Co-operation with the media will also be taken into account.”

West Ham United currently lead the overall Fair Play League.

(Reporting By Michael Hann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Muslim couple at the centre of racist train rant want charges laid

The couple were travelling on a train at around 1.


40pm on Wednesday when an elderly woman started verbally abusing the Muslim woman for her headscarf.

The elderly woman can be heard mentioning the Sydney siege, the Kenyan university massacre before accusing the Muslim woman of being an ISIS supporter. 

The couple, Khalida Hafeez and Hafeez Ahmed Bhatti, want the woman charged.

Mr Bhatti told the ABC they had spoken with NSW Police, but he remained frustrated.

“It’s frustrating that the lady generalised that all Muslims are,” he said.

“… She starts swearing and she says that you rape girls and things like that. If I am here and it’s my understanding that Australia is a free country, it’s equal for everyone.

“If someone with white skin can travel easily without any harm and concern, why don’t I?”

The racist tirade was recorded and uploaded to Facebook by Sydney woman, 23-year-old Stacey Eden.

“She wears it (her headscarf) because she wants to be modest with her body, not because of people like you who are going to sit there and disrespect her,” Eden is heard saying in the video.

“That is a minority of people. Not a majority… Have some respect.”

So i sat there for a good 10 minutes before i started recording this, while i listened to this woman bad mouth muslims…

Posted by Stacey Eden on Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The video has been viewed more than 631,000 times and has made local and international headlines. 

The husband of the woman, Hafeez Ahmed Bhatti, shared the video on his Facebook page, thanking Ms Eden for supporting them. 

“This video was not recorded by me. But that is what happened to us on sydney train, God bless Stacey Eden who support us.”

In a statement, the Islamophobia Register Australia group said they were disappointed but not surprised by the woman’s remarks, but praised Eden’s actions, calling her part of “Team Humanity”.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said it was important for the public to stand up against racism. 

“One of the most powerful things that anyone can do is to send a message that abuse is not acceptable,” Dr Soutphommasane told the ABC. “When people abuse others and that is met by silence it can embolden them to do it again.

“It’s always disappointing to see people being subjected to harassment or abuse in public places,” he said.

“It’s important that everyone who lives here or visits here receives a fair go and is treated the decency and respect.”

Many on social media have thanked Ms Eden for standing up to the elderly woman.

Fifi Flower commented on Facebook, “Thank you Stacey for speaking up. Thank you thank you thank you. I am muslim but don’t wear a headscarf and am scared that if one day I decide to, I too will be attacked. It’s good to know that people still stand up for others. Nowadays most people try to keep out of arguments that don’t directly involve them. We need more people like you.”

Imsharif Doleh wrote, “Thank you for defending her … I know we need a lot of people like you around.”

Geoff Cartridge commented, “What a fantastic and courageous lady. You are a true Australian. I feel sorry for the abused couple. No one should be subjected to this rubbish.”

#ThankyouStaceyEden #LetsRideTogether #SayNoToIslamophobia @IslamophobiaReg pic.twitter广西桑拿,/FU454kHHwW

— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) April 16, 2015

@MariamVeiszadeh Well done Stacey, for showing courage, compassion and tolerance… All good Australian values… #goodaussievalues

— Nurse Whitebeard (@nursewhitebeard) April 16, 2015

You’re amazing for standing up to a bully, who was racially abusing a Muslim family on the train! Much love! xxx #ThankYouStaceyEden

— ASY (@chaandbeti) April 16, 2015

FINA publishes members’ compensation following IOC lead

Switzerland-based FINA said top officers, including the president, were volunteers and took no salary but did receive a $400 (266 pounds) per diem when travelling in business class this year.


“In answer to the IOC President Thomas Bach and Agenda 2020’s call for transparency, FINA…states that the President, the Honorary Secretary, the Honorary Treasurer and the Bureau Members do not receive any kind of indemnity,” it said.

“They are considered volunteers and do not receive a salary. Until Dec 31, 2014 they received $300 per diem for the days of travel for FINA business and from Jan 1 $400 per diem. The travel expenses are covered in business class,” FINA said in the statement.

FINA said its office currently employed 32 people, including 11 part-time staff, but did not say how many days of travel had been registered for the previous year.

Swimming is one of the most popular sports of the Olympics.

Agenda 2020 is the IOC’s reform plan to make the Games more attractive.

The IOC earlier this month published its own compensation policy for the first time following a proposal from its ethics commission to increase transparency within the organisation.

The IOC president, who also does not get a salary, is paid a flat annual amount of 225,000 euros (149,785 pounds) to cover his expenses.

IOC Executive Board members and commission heads get $900 per day with standard IOC members $450 a day. An annual administrative support of $7,000 is added for each member, while travel and accommodation is covered by the IOC.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA and its European confederation UEFA have staunchly refused to publish the salaries and bonuses of top staff including under-fire FIFA President Sepp Blatter, also an IOC member.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Greece throws open immigration detention centres

Greece’s left-wing government, elected in January, is releasing detainees from immigration centres and allowing them to move freely around the country.


The government says they were being held in horrendous conditions, and their continued incarceration is unaffordable.

(Transcript from World News Radio – click on audio tab to listen to this item)

Like other European countries on the Mediterranean, Greece has seen a huge increase in the number of people trying to enter the EU in boats from Africa.

Many also enter Greece on land via its porous eastern borderlands.

Those detected by Greek authorities are usually locked up in one of seven detention centres.

In all, around 3,500 people are in detention, including children.

Greece has already faced a one million euro fine from the E-U over the squalid state of those centres, and the government has now taken the step of releasing people into communities.

Greece’s immigration minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou says it was not just the EU fine that prompted the mass release.

“The people that were there, were living an indescribable barbarity,” she said.

“The centres did not meet basic needs, and moreover most of those that were being held were being held illegally.”

The government has not set up any alternative provision for the people once they’re released.

But Ms Christodoulopoulou argues the government has little choice because holding them for indefinite periods is illegal.

“It’s true the infrastructure does not exist but it’s not the fault of those being held, and nor can they face this agony for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Greece’s economic woes are well-chronicled.

The debt crisis smashed the nation’s finances and left scant funds in the budget to tackle immigration issues.

Greece initially turned to the EU for funding, but that stream has now dried up.

Greek immigration officials are now seeking abandoned hotels and state residential buildings to house the former detainees.

Many have nowhere to go once they are released and gather in city squares with their belongings.

Pakistani migrant Ramzan Nazeer Ahmet was held in the Amygdaleza detention centre outside Athens before his recent release.

Like many others, he doesn’t have the proper documentation to find a job.

The 25-year-old says conditions in the detention centre are deplorable, the rooms would flood and the food is inadequate.

“This was like a prison, this was not a centre, at centres you can go outside, you can play ball, this was like a prison,” he said.

“Each room had four people in it and the door was locked.”

Ramzan Ahmet also alleges he was beaten by guards.

“I just want a decent life,” he said.

“If police said I had to stay in there for 18 months then that was fine, if police said I had to stay for two years that was fine, but no one said anything about being beaten up.

“I don’t like to be beaten, I don’t want free food if you have to get beaten up.”

The former conservative government of Antonis Samaras launched a sweep operation in 2012, arresting thousands of undocumented immigrants and sending them to detention centres.

In the last few years the situation has aided the extreme far-right in Greece to rise to third in the most recent general elections.

Residents in Athens and other cities, fearing crime and disease, have complained about uncontrolled migrant ghettos forming in neighbourhoods.

The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner’s European representative Jan Jarab has met Greek officials during a visit to Athens at the end of March and toured the Amygdaleza detention camp.

He says the UN supports the government’s moves to release the migrants but demanded it be coupled with an assistance program.

“It is not just to replace detention by destitution, by leaving persons destitute in the streets,” he said.

“There has to be facilities of a non-prison type character and it is clear that to create all this will require a kind of redirection of government’s energies, redirection of government financing. So, we are ready to accompany the Greek government in this process.”