Media Release: Interfaith leaders call on NSW Premier to announce a 5-day Parliamentary Drug Summit.

Interfaith leaders from across NSW have written directly to the NSW Premier Chris Minns calling on him to urgently announce a date for a 5-day Parliamentary Drug Summit.

“It was an election promise – and with a quarter of this parliamentary term nearly over we are concerned that weeks are turning to months and every day people are suffering from the harms caused by our unfair drug laws in NSW,” Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT, Rev Faaimata (Mata) Havea Hiliau said.

“Drug reform in NSW is a life-or-death issue for some, literally.

“We wrote to the NSW Premier in the spirit of unity and a shared commitment to the well-being of our communities and a belief in the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.

“It is with these principles in mind that we have come together to call on Premier Minns to urgently announce a 5-day Parliamentary Drug Summit this year,” Rev. Havea Hiliau said.

“As leaders of faith in our communities, we see the impact of drug dependency on individuals and their families every day,” CEO of Jewish House Rabbi Mendel Kastel said.

“We share a hope that people who are experiencing drug dependency will be able to access treatment and services when they seek help and that more treatment and support is funded and made available. 

“We told the Premier that we understand that this issue does not stand alone. It is complex and multifaceted and intersects with other issues, such as mental health, homelessness, domestic violence, unemployment and poverty,” Rabbi Kastel said. 

Major Kim Haworth, NSW/ACT Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army said “in the midst of this cost-of-living crisis we are concerned that more and more people will find themselves caught in a cycle of dependency with few treatment options and needless interactions with the criminal justice system – all of which we know can be disastrous for them, their families and our community.”

Fr Peter Smith, Promoter of the Peace, Justice and Peace Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said: “the 99 Drug Summit delivered tangible outcomes that saved and changed lives and we urgently need to get on with the 2024 Summit in Parliament.

“Our failure to act appropriately on drug use and dependency in our community comes with an enormous cost – in both human and financial terms.

“We must give this the time and attention it rightly deserves. We recognise that there is a need for change and a 5-day Parliamentary Drug Summit is a good start. This year’s Summit is a chance to bring together the experts, politicians, community and people with lived experience to go on the journey towards action and outcomes.

“This is an issue of paramount importance for our communities. It affects so many lives, every single day,” Fr Smith said.

Abbas Raza Alvi, President of the Indian Crescent Society of Australia Inc. said: “the impacts of our unfair drug laws cannot be understated – with huge and unnecessary costs to our health, justice, community services and education systems.

“We know that the impacts of the current approach on drug users and those living with dependency – and their families – are enormously harmful,” Abbas said.

A copy of the letter to the NSW Premier Chris Minns can be found here: Interfaith Open Letter –  A Call To Justice 

Signatories:

Rev Mata Havea Hiliau, Moderator of the Uniting Church NSW.ACT
Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of Jewish House,
Fr Peter Smith, Promoter of the Peace, Justice and Peace Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Abbas Raza Alvi, President of the Indian Crescent Society of Australia Inc.
The Right Reverend Dr Peter Stuart, Bishop of Newcastle Diocese
Major Kim Haworth, NSW/ACT Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army

 

Media contact:

Andrew Bradley
Ph: 0481 064 379

E-mail: abradley@uniting.org