PARLIAMENTARY DRUG SUMMIT 2016

Co-Hosted by Senator Richard Di Natale, Sharman Stone MP and Melissa Parke MP, Co-Convenors of the Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy and Law Reform

WE HAVE AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE APPROACHES TO DRUG POLICY IN AUSTRALIA INCLUDING WHAT HAS AND HASN’T WORKED AND THE POSSIBILITIES FOR THE FUTURE. – Richard, Sharman & Melissa

Drug Law Reform Summit

The Summit

On 2 March, the Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy and Law Reform held the Parliamentary Drug Summit in Canberra.

This Summit comprised International and Australian representatives with expertise in health, NGO, justice, personal addiction and academia, and will provide an opportunity to share experiences and recommendations around harm minimisation and drug law reform.

The Parliamentary Group sees this Summit as a valuable platform from which to influence Australian public policy in advance of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem scheduled for April 2016.

Summit Materials

» VIEW THE PARTICIPANT PACK
Includes Program and Panellist Information

» CURRENT DRUG TRENDS AND RESPONSES
Prepared by Paul Dietze

» COMPONENTS OF GOOD DRUG POLICY
Prepared by Dr Caitlin Hughes

» DRUG POLICY INNOVATION
Prepared by Professor Simon Lenton

» DECRIMINALISATION OF DRUG USE AND POSSESSION IN AUSTRALIA
Briefing note from the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre

CANBERRA DECLARATION ON ILLICIT DRUGS

We call personal illicit drug use for what it is, a health issue, not a criminal issue. Regardless of what we may think about this issue, some Australians, mostly younger Australians, take drugs.

Whether in the pursuit of a good time, as a result of peer pressure, or to ease pain and hardship, drug use will continue in our communities.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre reported that Australian governments spent approximately $1.6 billion in 2009/10 on illicit drugs. Of this spending, $1 billion or 64% went on law enforcement, 22% on treatment, 10% on prevention and 2% on harm reduction.

Despite the overwhelming bias in funding towards law enforcement, or perhaps because of it, we continue to see deaths, overdoses, accidents, illness and addiction in our communities.

A new approach is needed.

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED RECOGNISE THAT –

• Putting health and community safety first requires a fundamental broadening of illicit drug policy in Australia away from failed punitive enforcement to proven health and social interventions.

• While policing is an important part of illicit drug policy, law enforcement strategies should focus on the organised criminal supply marketplace where the benefits of police interventions will be highest.

• Australia should implement and evaluate the health benefits of removing criminal sanctions for personal drug use as demonstrated in international settings

• Some current law enforcement strategies, for example, drug sniffer dogs, can lead to increased harm and should be reviewed or ceased and their resources redirected into more effective strategies.

• Drug checking presents as a potentially valuable option for reducing harm at public events and governments should enable trials to be implemented as a matter of priority.

• Police and other government agencies hold data and information on the composition of street drugs gained through seizure and hospital presentations. These data and information should be publicly available, in partnership with non-government organisations, to allow drug users to better understand the risks around their drug use and to assist in the development of more effective drug policy.

• The Kings Cross clinically supervised injecting facility has been proven to reduce overdoses and deaths, and connects drug users to health workers. Given the demonstrated benefits, clinically supervised injecting facilities should be more widely available.

• We should increase funding of drug treatment to a level sufficient to meet realistic demand, including for culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and for those in prisons.

• We should enhance the capacity and expand the availability of early drug intervention and treatment services for young people, including funding for meaningful workforce strategies and appropriate housing.

• We recognise the need to actively involve families in treatment processes and to support them with tools that keep their families connected.

• We must pursue an open debate on more effective policies to prevent and reduce all harms related with drug use and its control.