National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows support for health-based responses to drug use continues to grow

Community support for health and welfare based responses to drug use continues to grow, as revealed today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. 

This year marks the 14th time the survey has been released, giving a picture of changing drug use trends and community views on drugs since 1985.    

“The survey results strongly align with what we believed was already happening out there in the community. Today, more and more people believe that drug use and dependency should be treated by a health professional and not by a police officer or a court,” Alice Salomon, Uniting’s Head of Media and Advocacy said. 

“These results today tell us very clearly that the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use is broadly supported by Australians. 

“Additionally, support for drug checking (64%) and supervised drug consumption facilities (53%), like Uniting’s Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) continues to grow with over half of respondents supporting both of these measures.  

“The majority of those surveyed believe that our first response to people who use all illicit drugs (excluding cannabis) should be referral to a treatment or education program; for cannabis, it was a caution or warning or no action at all,” Alice said. 

“The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recently became the first Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise illicit drugs in small quantities. 

“In NSW today, EDDI – the Early Drug Detection Initiative – came into effect. Formerly proposed by the Coalition Government and recently adopted by the current Government, this scheme is a bipartisan recognition that the 23,000 people arrested every year for drug use or possession in NSW (19,000 of whom go to court) would do better interacting with a health service, and in turn also free up police and court resources. 

“Today’s AIHW report reinforces that, with strong community support for health and well-being responses to drug use and dependency, reforming our unfair drug laws must be on the cards. Real and meaningful changes are long overdue and incredibly important.  

“Any positive change to the way we approach drug and alcohol use and dependency in Australia is always welcome,” she said.  

“All of this reinforces again why we need the long promised 5-day Parliamentary Drug Summit in NSW. 

“The sooner we get a date for this much anticipated event, that mirrors the format of the successful 1999 summit, the sooner we can get closer to the critical reforms that must follow this first important step,” Alice said. 

You can read the full results of the survey here.

Media contact:   Andrew Bradley  Media & Public Affairs Manager 
0481 064 379 
abradley@uniting.org