Staff from Tamworth's emergency department will give evidence during a three-day public hearing in Maitland next week that aims to gain a deeper understanding of the ice epidemic in the Hunter and New England.
The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice will have a range of frontline workers, health practitioners, educators and treatment service providers giving evidence, starting Tuesday morning.
Ice-related hospitalisations increased 18-fold in just seven years in the Hunter New England Health district, from 8.6 per 100,000 people in 2010, to 159 per 100,000 in 2017, according to NSW Health data.
Commissioner Professor Dan Howard acknowledged this health region had been one of the hardest hit in the state.
"Crystal methamphetamine, and other amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), are having serious impacts across the Hunter and New England," he said.
"The Commission will hear from the families, communities and professionals affected, and look into opportunities to improve how we respond to use of these illicit drugs."
The commission will also include a private hearing where individuals with lived experience of illegal stimulants use and its impacts will give evidence.
Members of the region's Indigenous communities "will share their experiences and concerns during a private roundtable discussion".
Focus on youth
Both the Liverpool Plains Shire and Glen Innes Severn councils wrote preliminary submissions to the commission, the latter's community services manager Janine Johnson requesting a specific focus on youth aged 12-24 years.
Liverpool Plains council general manager Ron Van Katwyk also requested "expertise in youth liaison and youth advocacy", as well as "adequate rural representation and expertise."
The commission was established by the NSW government for three reasons - to understand: the nature, prevalence and impacts of the drug: the adequacy of current measures to target the drug: and the options to strengthen the state's response to the use of ice, including law enforcement, education and rehabilitation.
The commission has already held hearings in Lismore, Dubbo and Nowra, and the last will be heard in Broken Hill next month.