DRUGS are the scourge of most regional communities.
And, in an effort to combat that problem more effectively in the near future, an organisation is encouraging residents in Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton, as well as surrounding areas, to "speak out".
The Upper Hunter Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), which works with other groups to develop and deliver strategies to help prevent and minimise harm from alcohol and substance abuse, wants to hear from everyone, via a quick and easy-to-fill-out confidential survey.
"It's only seven questions but we need the feedback," said Senior Constable Sheree Gray, who is also a member of the LDAT.
"Community opinion on drug and alcohol issues is crucial.
"For example, we're keen to hear how people feel about it and what they see in their neighbourhoods.
"This is not a police survey, it's a LDAT initiative.
"No one will be contacted afterwards, unless they win the $100 We LIVE Here gift voucher.
"From the results, we'll look at different options to reduce the problems in the various towns.
"Each LGA - Muswellbrook, Singleton or Upper Hunter - could be poles apart.
"But, getting a gauge from locals is vital - it's important for them to have a say."
The Upper Hunter LDAT has been operational since 2017 when it was formally accepted into the LDAT program, which is administered by the Australian Drug Foundation.
The region's lead agency is Upper Hunter Youth Services with partnerships with Hunter Valley Police District, PCYC, Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council, Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter shire councils, Drug and Alcohol Health Services and the Youth Development Project.
Now, the Upper Hunter LDAT is in the process of developing its action plan, which will provide the organisation with goals and strategies for the next few years.
"We developed three individual surveys that seek feedback from community members; individuals and families affected by the misuse of alcohol and other drugs; and the organisations that work with individuals and families," Senior Constable Gray said.
"Then all of that data will be collated.
"In some cases, if a lot of people feel ice is bad in their town, we might be able to myth-bust some of their concerns.
"Or, their suspicions could be correct, depending on the results.
"That's why we're taking a holistic approach - it's not just one aspect - to obtain a clearer picture.
"And, the more information we have, the better our strategies will be down the track."
Completed forms can be returned to Muswellbrook, Merriwa, Murrurundi and Singleton libraries; Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton council chambers; or posted to LDAT Survey, PO Box 122, Muswellbrook, NSW 2333, throughout the month of May.