VMAX: Understanding meth use in Victoria

There has been a lot of media coverage regarding methamphetamine (ice and speed) use and related harms in Australia in recent years, with a particular focus on regional and rural areas. However, an overall lack of data limits our understanding of what is actually happening in the community.

We need data on long-term patterns of methamphetamine use, including what causes people to start and stop using over time, the types of services that they use (e.g. GPs, ambulances, drug rehab), and the types of services they wish to access for help.

Without these details, we can’t improve services and don’t know the best time to intervene and prevent people transitioning to more problematic use patterns.

To help us better understand what is happening in the community with meth use, the Burnet Institute is undertaking a study – VMAX – involving 800 Victorians who currently use meth.

Major aims:

  1. Determine the nature and extent of methamphetamine use in Melbourne and three regional areas (Bendigo, Shepparton and Latrobe)

  2. Identify the natural course of meth and other drug use, including periods of dependence and abstinence and relapse, and the health (e.g., drug treatment) and social (e.g., major life events) factors that drive such changes

  3. Identify cost-effective approaches of delivering treatment services to people who use methamphetamine in these Victorian locations.

Through statistical and economic modelling, we will also estimate the effectiveness of different drug treatment strategies (e.g., counselling, residential rehabilitation) in contributing to reduced drug use and improved health more broadly. Along these lines, we will compare the costs and benefits of different treatment modalities in metropolitan and regional Australia.

Findings from the modelling will inform the ways in which existing services are offered to people who are dependent on methamphetamine.


Those taking part in VMAX must be 1) 18 years old or over 2) living in one of the four study locations, and 3) regularly using methamphetamine.

Participants will undertake a face-to-face survey with questions about demographics, drug use, use of treatment and support services, general and mental health and experience of drug-related harms.

Participation in VMAX is confidential. Survey data are stored electronically in an anonymous fashion (without names).

We will protect the confidentiality of the information you provide unless we’re required to disclose it under law; i.e., any serious or imminent threat to harm yourself or others may have to be reported to another person (the project leader in the first instance), and any information regarding the protective safety of children will be reported to relevant authorities.

Contact details:

  • Melbourne - 0490 456 652

  • Bendigo - 0490 486 217

  • Latrobe - 0490 483 365

  • Shepparton - 0490 488 264

Email -


Ongoing (longitudinal cohort study)






Monash University, Department of Rural Health, Bendigo and Moe/Newborough

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Professor Paul Dietze

Co-Program Director, Disease Elimination