Shaun Devitt has never had a more “confronting” and “intense” experience than the one he had filming Ice: The Scourge of Regional Australia.
The Prime 7, one-hour TV special – which the producer filmed with acclaimed journalist Ray Martin – is a tell-all about those painfully affected by ice addiction – the devastated families, the victims, the doctors, the police, rehabilitation staff, emergency workers, and even the addicts themselves.
But it was a project which Devitt said no matter how much research he did in the lead up, he would never have been prepared for the emotional effect it had on him.
“I thought I had quite a bit about the problem; considering my experience, I’ve seen some shocking things over the years, but in terms of the personal heartache of these families from regional towns, I don’t think anything has affected me personally as much as filming this,” he said.
“I think every place we went to, both Ray and I thought we had heard at all and then we’d do another interview with another broken family and another person who had essentially ruined their life from trying ice.”
It’s easy to play the skepticism card; it’s hard to believe that someone would get hooked on ice after trying it once.
But the producer said after travelling around the country, hearing story after story about the effects the drug had, all account pointed to yes.
Which is possibly why the local Prime 7/GWN centres across Australia overwhelming agreed that this confronting community issue deserved to be looked at in depth.
“We don’t want to go into these communities and produce another story which is just bashing the local communities over the head,” Devitt said.
“We had to walk away (from this) with some sort of hope and optimism and some solution so people think: ‘OK this is not a futile exercise’, and to be honest that’s what we found.
“Particularly in WA; the prison we went into their rehab program has some amazing success stories.
“For example, we met a young guy from Bunbury who by all reports had the perfect upbringing in Bunbury – he went to church every week with mum and dad, had quite a Christian life growing up but had a quite traumatic event happen in his late teens and unfortunately he turned to ice.
“As he says in the show, he was dealing to nurses and his own teachers and lawyers and at one point he talks about that he was doing 180-200km through the streets because he was coming down from ice and just didn’t care if whether he hit someone or someone hit him – he was just that desperate for another hit.
“His story is going to really resonate with people in WA.”
Along with Western Australia, the TV special takes a look at how the drug has affected people in regional parts of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.
However, while the program films outside of the metro areas in other parts of the country, when it comes to WA they chose to film in Perth’s Fresh Start Recovery Programme in Subiaco and Wandoo Reintegration Facility in Murdoch – a choice which Devitt said was still a relevant one.
Firstly Fresh Start – which also has a rehabilitation property in Northam – is one of a kind when it comes to its approach to drug rehabilitation.
The company has pioneered an implant to administer naltrexone – a medication which reverses the effects of some drugs and alcohol – to help addicts overcome their addiction.
As for Wandoo, Devitt said it’s rehab programs were particularly good in a time where “99 to 100 percent of inmates turn up with drug addiction and in particular ice”.
Ice: The Scourge of Regional Australia will be on GWN at 7.30pm on Monday or online from Tuesday.