Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Contact:  Tue, 22 Sept 1998
Author: John Merriman


DRUG dealers are hooking young Aborigines by offering heavily
discounted prices for hard drugs such as speed and heroin.

In some cases heroin is being sold cheaper than marijuana.

And a lack of suitable substance abuse programs results in many young
users turning to crime, says the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council.

ADAC State co-ordinator Mr Scott Wilson said: "I would argue that they
get into speed and heroin because the dealers obviously target those
groups of people and it is a lot cheaper to get them than pot

"Once people are fully in and are coming back for more, then the price
will start to go up.

"Then they are in an addictive state and need to start doing hold-ups
and stuff like that."

Last month, SA Police stated that young Aboriginal drug addicts were
at least partly responsible for Adelaide's 30 per cent rise in violent
robberies, including hold-ups, bag snatches and home invasions.

Mr Wilson said the crimes would continue unless greater resources were
devoted to early intervention.

"They seem to have all these programs targeted at the end stage, after
crimes are committed, while there's nothing really targeted at
stopping these people from getting down that track," he said.

Mr Wilson said his organisation's regular funding had been stagnant
for about two years while the Commonwealth Health Department reviewed
funding for substance abuse projects.

A spokesman for the federal Health Minister, Dr Wooldridge, said he
believed the review had been going for "more like 18 months".

"The reason it is taking so long is that you have got a lot of data to
go through," he said.

"They maintain their funding (during the review), they get funding
every year."

The spokesman said there was an opportunity for organisations such as
ADAC to apply for funding for specific projects but whether they were
successful depended on "how good the project is".

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady