Thursday, March 29, 2012

Honorary Advisers

Australia21 has appointed two Honorary Advisers to the Board, both of whom were participants in our recent Roundtable on Illicit Drugs Policy.  To the extent that their timetables permit, they will participate fully in all of our Board and Research Committee discussions.

They are:

Vivienne Moxham-Hall

Vivienne Moxham-Hall has completed her degree in Science and Arts at Sydney University and is now completing a Masters of Health Policy. She has taken on a variety of leadership positions within the University such as University of Sydney Union Board Director from 2010-2012, SRC councillor from 2011-2012 and Under-graduate Science Student Representative. She is a volunteer with Surf Lifesaving Australia and is passionate about giving a youth voice to the policy directives of the future.

 Tom Merrett

Tom Merrett is currently a second year student at the University of Adelaide, studying a double degree of Chemical Engineering with Finance on a BHP Billiton scholarship. He is a representative on CHEMS, a student engineering society. In 2010 Tom was school captain at Unley High School. He was also a youth participant in Australia 21’s next big question project (see his contribution, made in his final school year, here). His interests include multimedia with an emphasis on video production and politics.

Vivienne and Tom are already contributing fresh perspectives to our organisation, and Tom is putting in a massive effort on a voluntary basis to the redesign of our website (watch this space).

New Executive Officer

Australia21 is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Executive Officer, Lyn Stephens, who joined us in January following Rachel Oliphant’s acceptance of a position in the Australian Pubic Service.

Lyn’s experience ranges across psychiatric social work, human resource management and public sector management, all of which fit her well for the multifaceted demands of the part time Australia21 role.

She is currently an organizational development consultant with a particular interest in dialogue and community consultation.

She retains a visiting fellowship at the College of Law at the Australian National University, which was initiated while she was Director of the Centre for Dialogue Project at the ANU.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Launch of Report on Illicit Drugs Policy

On Tuesday 31 January 2012 Australia21 convened a roundtable hosted by Sydney University to consider the following question:

What are the likely costs and benefits of a change in Australia’s current policy on illicit drugs?

The decision to convene this roundtable was prompted by the June 2011 release of the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (downloadable from here), which definitively concluded that the 40 years old global war on drugs has failed and recommended, inter alia, that governments be encouraged to experiment with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.

Prior to the roundtable Australia21 commissioned a discussion paper by Mr David McDonald, a social research consultant at the Australian National University who specialises in issues at the boundary where public health issues and the criminal law intersect.  Mr McDonald’s paper canvassed the issues raised by the Global Commission Report and set them in an Australian context, addressing issues such as the extent and nature of drug availability and use in Australia, the principal sources of drug related harm in Australia, and the core challenges Australia faces to day in relation to drug policy.

We were fortunate to be able to bring together an extraordinarily high level and diversified group from across the political spectrum to consider this important and sensitive topic.  In alphabetical order the participants were:

Mr Paul Barratt AO
Chair Australia21 and former Secretary, Department of Defence and Department of Primary Industries and Energy

Hon Dr Peter Baume AC
Former Chancellor Australian National University; Federal Senator and Health Minister in the Coalition Government led by Malcolm Fraser

Mr Chris Berg
Research Fellow, Institute of Public Affairs, and  newspaper columnist

Mr Bill Bush
Retired International Lawyer and Member of Families and Friends for Drug Reform

Hon Bob Carr AC
Former Premier of NSW

Hon Kate Carnell AO
Former Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory

Professor Nicholas Cowdery AM, QC
Former Director of Public Prosecutions, NSW

Professor Bob Douglas AO (Chair)
Former Director, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University; Director Australia21

Hon Professor Geoff Gallop AC
Former Premier of Western Australia

Professor Margaret Hamilton AO
Formerly Founding Director of Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Center Victoria, Current Drug Policy Advisor

Mr Brian McConnell
President, Families and Friends for Drug Reform

Ms Marion McConnell
Parent of a son who lost his life to a heroin overdose

Mr David McDonald
Social Research Consultant

Mr Tom Merrett
Second Year University Student, University of Adelaide

Hon Professor Michael Moore
Executive Officer, Public Health Association of Australia and former ACT Health Minister

Ms Vivienne Moxham-Hall
Arts and Science Graduate and Student Representative Councillor, University of Sydney

Mr Mick Palmer, AO, APM
Former Commissioner, Australian Federal Police

Professor Alison Ritter
Director Drug Policy Modeling Program
University of New South Wales

Professor Robin Room
Drug policy researcher and current Director, Turning Point, Victoria

Ms Lyn Stephens
Executive Officer, Australia21

Mr Nick Stump
Former mining industry executive, Director Australia21, Chair Construction Industry Advisory Board on Drugs in the Workplace

Dr Alex Wodak AM
President Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and Former President, International Harm Reduction Association

Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge
Former Federal Minister for Health in the Coalition Government led by John Howard

The report of the roundtable is now at the printers, and it will be launched by roundtable participant Nicholas Cowdery QC, former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, in a Committee Room in Parliament House, Canberra, at 10.00 am for 10.30 am on Tuesday 3 April.

Other roundtable participants at the launch will be Paul Barratt, Chris Berg, Bob Douglas, Brian and Marion McConnell, David McDonald, Mick Palmer and Alex Wodak.

Australia21 expresses its appreciation to ACT Senator Garry Humphries for sponsoring the launch event at Parliament House, to the University of Sydney for providing us with the venue for the roundtable, and to the donors who generously assisted us financially with this project.