Time for a healthier approach to drug use

Time for a healthier approach to drug use

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Our Managing Director Bevan Warner has written to the Victorian Parliament to contribute to their Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee's inquiry into drug law reform.

Drawing on our considerable practical experience providing legal assistance to people who are affected by drug use, he shares our unique insight into how drugs can cause or exacerbate legal problems.

We are continuing to see an increase in the number of people affected by drug use who come into contact with the criminal justice system. In particular, our practice experience suggests that ice use is increasingly prevalent.

Our recommendations reiterate our previous submission to the National Ice Taskforce in May 2015, about the impact of ice on the community, including effective ways to combat ice use.

In that submission we emphasised:

  • the need for more resources that provide residential rehabilitation, detox and related programs to allow greater accessibility to individuals who suffer from ice addiction
  • more health services, and funding for intensive support services for families affected by drug use
  • the need for properly resourced, tailored diversion and case management services to tackle the complex issues ice creates
  • the need for a collaborative and cross-organisational approach to education for secondary school-aged students to build awareness about the legal issues associated with illicit drug use and how to minimise harm
  • further research into underlying factors that lead to ice addiction, and studies into effective programs to prevent reoffending.

The submission is timely, following the recently released Australia21 report Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely?. The report recommends that the overriding objective of Australia's national policy on drugs should be the minimisation of harm to those who use drugs and those around them, with the emphasis placed on assisting people to make wiser choices about their drug use and minimising harms when they make unwise choices.

We know that people experiencing disadvantage and social exclusion are more vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse and we welcome an approach that treats drug use as a heath issue requiring treatment.

Read our full submission

Read our Submission to the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee Inquiry into Drug Law Reform.