The impact of methamphetamine’s on frontline emergency services in Victoria, Australia

Mrs Rikki Jones1, Professor Kim Usher1, Dr Cindy Woods1

1University Of New England, Armidale, Australia

The use of methamphetamine is a growing problem in Australia, despite the statistics reporting a decrease in the number of people using methamphetamines. Methamphetamine users can suffer adverse physical health effects, psychotic symptoms and methamphetamine-related aggressive behaviour. This presentation reports the results of a study analysing data collected by Ambulance Victoria describing crystal methamphetamine-related events attended by ambulance across Victoria over six financial years from 2011/12 to 2016/17. Results: Methamphetamine-related events attended by Victoria Ambulance paramedics significantly increased from 2011/12 to 2016/17, particularly in regional Victoria. The proportion of events requiring police co-attendance significantly increased, as did transportation to emergency department/hospital.

Conclusion: These results indicate the need for increased resources and support for paramedics, particularly in regional/rural areas. The large increase among young people aged 15-24 years indicates a need for policy action on prevention, harm reduction and expanded treatment services to reduce health problems and methamphetamine-related harms.


Rikki is a lecturer in Nursing at the University of New England (UNE), currently studying a Doctorate of Philosophy- nursing. Rikki’s research focuses on emergency care and drug & alcohol. Rikki completed her BN at UNE in 2001 undertaking a post graduate year at Tamworth. Rikki spent several years working in community health and primary health care before spending the next 10 years working mostly in the emergency department and theatres of rural hospitals and MPS facilities. She has a broad range of experience in emergency nursing, community health, and rural and remote nursing.