HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES NATIONAL SUMMIT: JOINT STATEMENT ON HARMS FROM CURRENT AUSTRALIAN DRUG LAWS
This Joint Statement is issued by health and social service providers and policy leaders who met for a national summit on drug harm reduction at Victoria’s Parliament House on Wednesday 21 March 2018, convened by Australia21: think tank for the public good.
Joint Statement Monday 26 March 2018 We the undersigned call on Australia’s federal, state and territory governments to treat drug use primarily as a health and social issue and to remove criminal sanctions for personal use and possession. We make this call because our own professional experience supports overwhelming evidence that current Australian drug laws, although well-intentioned, create and/or worsen a wide range of health and social harms. There are complex two-way interactions between the punitive approach to drug use and problems including poverty, social disadvantage, unemployment, homelessness, family violence, child protection interventions, mental illness and suicide. Poor drug policy also leads to further crime. The human and financial costs of the negative impacts of the current drug laws are borne not just by drug users, but by their families and communities, and the nation as a whole. We have agreed to work together to improve public awareness of (a) the negative impacts of the current drug laws and the way they are interpreted and implemented, and (b) the real and tangible health and social benefits of drug law reform. Signed, Laurence Alvis EO, Uniting ReGen (AOD treatment and education service of Uniting Vic Tas) Kat Armstrong Lawyer, former drug user Co-founder, Women In Prison Advocacy Network (now Women’s Justice Network) Paul Barratt AO Chair, Australia21: think tank for the public good Former Secretary, Departments of Primary Industries and Energy & Defence Liz Barrett Campaigns and Policy Advisor, Uniting Centre for Research, Innovation & Advocacy Social justice advocate Rebecca Bunn Director and Community Engagement Manager, Australia21 Managing Director, Imprisonment Observatory, Monash University Bill Bush President, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform Former head of the Treaties Section in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kasy Chambers CEO, Anglicare Australia Kyle Cox Campaign and Advocacy Advisor, Uniting Former senior staff member, US Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas AO Founding Director, Australia21 Foundation Director, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU Professor Suzanne Fraser Program Leader, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University Professor Margaret Hamilton AO Former: Foundation Director, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre; executive member of the Australian National Council on Drugs; chair of the Capital City Lord Mayors Drug Advisory Committee Susan Helyar Director, ACT Council of Social Services Caitlin Hughes Criminologist Senior Research Fellow, Drug Policy Modelling Program, University of NSW Marianne Jauncey Medical Director, Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre Conjoint Senior Lecturer, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of NSW Clinical Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney Marion McConnell OAM Founding member, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform Stephen McNally Deputy CEO, Penington Institute Emeritus Professor Jake Najman Sociologist Director, Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Center, University of Queensland Carol Nikakis CEO, Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders Margaret Nimac Representing the CEO of Uniting, Peter Worland Matt Noffs CEO, Noffs Foundation (Australia’s largest drug and alcohol treatment service provider for young people under 25) Co-founder of Street Universities Professor Peter Norden AO Fellow, Australian & New Zealand Society of Criminology. Hon. Fellow, Humanities & Social Sciences, Deakin University Jon O’Brien Head of Social Justice Forum, Uniting (the Uniting Church’s community service and advocacy arm in NSW/ACT) Connor Palmer Representing YoungA21, Australia21’s youth advisory committee Pharmacy intern Mick Palmer AO APM Emeritus Director, Australia21 Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Former Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Service Fiona Patten Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly Founder and leader of REASON, a movement of radical common sense Emeritus Professor David Penington AC Former Dean of Medicine and Vice Chancellor, University of Melbourne Former chair of the Victorian Premier’s Drug Advisory Council, Capital City Lord Mayors Drug Advisory Committee & Victorian Drug Expert Committee Deborah Rice Director and Communications Manager, Australia21 Former ABC News Senior Reporter and Presenter Professor Robin Room Sociologist Professor, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Latrobe University Associate Professor Kate Seear Associate Professor in Law, Monash University Academic Director of the Springvale Monash Legal Service Rosie Shea Australia21 Volunteer Member of Unharm Lyn Stephens Director, Australia21 Organisational development consultant Stephanie Taplin Associate Director of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University Associate Professor kylie valentine Deputy Director, Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW Alex Wodak AM Director, Australia21 President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Emeritus Consultant, Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney