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Small steps towards Fair Treatment of personal drug use

A groundswell of public and expert opinion suggests we could be inching closer to the decriminalisation of the personal use of drugs and better-resourced treatment options.

Uniting and over 60 organisations in the Fair Treatment partnership at fairtreatment.org seek a society where no one dies from using drugs, and everyone can get help when they need it – including in regional and rural areas.

Parents of young people who have died from drug overdose have urged the NSW Government to grasp the opportunity to make meaningful, well-evidenced reforms. Some key developments:

The government’s Special Commission of Inquiry into “Ice” has concluded – recommendations from the Commission’s lawyers forming a comprehensive blueprint for reform.

Recommendations include considering drug use as a health and social issue; adequate resourcing and distribution of treatment centres; a NSW Drug Action Plan, dedicated Minister and Advisory Group; decriminalising personal use/possession of all drugs; a project to reduce stigma; review and enhancement of student drug education; integration of medically supervised injection and inhalation services into existing drug services; a trial of substance safety testing – both community-based and at festivals; and drug treatment services and programs in custody.

The Inquiry report is due in January 2020.

The full report of Coroner Harriet Grahame into drug deaths at music festivals was published on November 8 and included recommendations for pill testing – at festivals and community-based; consideration of decriminalising personal use; a drug summit; removal of drug detection dogs at music festivals; and limiting strip searches at festivals.

Meanwhile Uniting’s documentary film Half a Million Steps at www.fairtreatment.org/events has continued its successful screenings across New South Wales and beyond, with positive reactions from experts and the community. To find your next/nearest screening or host your own community screening, contact Bronwyn Seneque, Uniting Advocacy: bseneque@uniting.org.

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