On the 21st of September, the NSW State Government released its response to the recommendations of the Ice Inquiry. Pressure from supporters like you meant that the government could no longer delay!
This long overdue announcement came nearly 3 years after the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ was first handed down. It is a testament to the good work of Commissioner Professor Dan Howard SC and the numerous people who shared their lived experiences. It also reflects community attitudes, with 78 percent of Australians supporting non-criminal action against personal drug use.
An Imperfect Response
The package amounts to $500 million, of which $358 million is for treatment. It is also in principle support for diversion of all drugs. The coupling of treatment and diversion of all drugs is also a major achievement, considering what many opponents of the inquiry wanted.
It is disappointing that in announcing its response to the Ice Inquiry, the NSW Government has ignored important expert evidence, has not set a time-frame for implementing diversion, and has opted for a poor two-chance, $400 fine model of diversion that risks leaving those affected by drug dependency in the hands of the police.
But it also contains many positives. The announcement of $358 million for increased treatment, particularly in rural and regional areas, addresses a key element of the Fair Treatment Campaign, and we applaud the Government’s delayed acceptance of the need to dramatically increase treatment funding.
It is great to see that the package of measures includes a diversion program that applies to all drugs. However, the community will have to wait an uncertain amount of time for this diversion program until the accompanying treatment, support, and justice system measures are advanced.
Take a look at the Uniting NSW.ACT Media Release responding to the announcement below.