“A shift to a focus on health-based and community responses for drug use and dependency rather than seeing the police and the courts as the place where we seek to address this is long overdue but warmly welcomed,” Uniting NSW.ACT’s Head of Media and Advocacy Alice Salomon said.
“For over twenty years, we have run the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) and have seen first-hand that when we treat addiction as a health issue and offer appropriate supports to people that positive changes happen.
“Uniting NSW.ACT, through our Fair Treatment campaign has long advocated for sensible and meaningful reform to drugs policy.
“I think we can all agree that real reform when it comes to our unfair drug laws is long overdue and incredibly important.
“Any positive change to the way we approach drug use and dependency in Australia is always welcome.
“We commend the ACT government for actually listening to the experts and acting in accordance with that expert advice. We need much more of that in relation to important public issues like drug use and dependency.
“We know that the system still grossly impacts people experiencing vulnerability and further changes must be explored and adopted right across Australia,” Ms Salomon said.
“Drug use and dependency is health issue and should be treated as such. The so called ‘war on drugs’ has failed.
“This is a welcome step from the ACT and one we hope that other states and territories will soon follow.
“We are particularly watching what happens in NSW and the announcement from the NSW Premier on the date and time for the long-promised Drug Summit in NSW.
“In the ACT they have taken an evidence-based approach and shown a willingness to act in line with community values to support people and treat drug use as a health and social issue- that’s good government.
“The Queensland Government has also committed to drug checking and are exploring expansion of drug diversion for all drugs. NSW is so far behind,” she said.
Uniting NSW.ACT Moderator, Rev Faaimata (Mata) Havea Hiliau said:
“The Uniting Church welcomes this long overdue change in the ACT. Our responses to people who use drugs should always be focused on health, safety and wellbeing.
“The Uniting Church supports reform of our drug laws because we value every human life equally. Close to our heart is that people be treated with dignity and respect, including people who use drugs.
“We need to have a more honest, open and ongoing conversation about alcohol and other drugs. Our current laws perpetuate stigma and create harm by driving people away from seeking and finding the support they need,” she said.
Polling in the ACT last year, commissioned by Uniting’s Fair Treatment campaign, asked: “What action best describes what should happen to someone found in possession of illicit drugs in personal quantities?”
The findings showed that an overwhelming majority are in favour of health-based responses to drug use.