Campaign Pushes For Drug Policy Rethink
1 October 2018 at 4:42 pm
With drug induced deaths at a 20 year high in Australia, a coalition of 60 charity, community and health groups are launching a campaign to push for a rethink of current drug policy.
The Fair Treatment campaign, led by Uniting NSW and ACT, will be launched in part by entrepreneur and global drug reform advocate Richard Branson in Sydney on 12 October.
Uniting NSW and ACT senior executive Doug Taylor said the war on drugs was not working and that the response to illicit drugs needed to change.
“Meaningful drug policy reform, for the fair treatment of all people, will only come through a courageous movement of people intent on forging a new path for people affected by drug policy,” Taylor said.
“To this end the Uniting Church (NSW and ACT) and its service arm, Uniting, together with 60 other partner agencies is launching The Fair Treatment campaign.”
NSW Council for Social Services, Aboriginal Legal Service, NSW Bar Association, Australian Human Rights Watch and Hepatitis Australia, were among some of the partnered organisations signed onto the campaign.
Taylor said there was no link between a law enforcement approach and reducing the rate of drug use.
“Of the 80,000 Australians charged with drug related offences in 2014 to 2015, 66 per cent were charged only with personal possession or use, and this number is increasing,” he said.
“A decriminalisation approach coupled with investment in harm reduction and treatment services can have a positive impact on both individual drug users and society as a whole.”
In 2001, Uniting Church supported the establishment of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC), which a spokesperson for Uniting said has seen thousands of overdoses treated and reduced the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.
“A decriminalisation approach coupled with investment in harm reduction and treatment services can have a positive impact on both individual drug users and society as a whole,” they said.
Uniting Church added what it was pushing for now was not a legalisation of drugs, but a removal of criminal penalties for drug use and possession.
Branson will launch the campaign alongside the executive secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Dr Khalid Tinasti, and the medical director of Uniting’s MSIC, Dr Marianne Jauncey.
Taylor said collaboration and support within the sector was vital for the campaign to work.
“The Uniting Church in NSW and ACT is taking a leadership role in this important campaign, we are encouraging everyone to show their support for the need for a major change to national drug policy,” he said.