Friday, September 7, 2012

Media Alert: Launch of Second Report on Illicit Drugs

Following is the text of a media alert issued by Australia21 today, notifying the launch of Australia21’s second report on illicit drugs, to be launched at Adelaide Convention Centre by the Hon. John Hill, South Australian Minister for Health and Ageing.

What:       Launch of Australia21 report: Alternatives to prohibition. Illicit drugs: How we can stop killing and criminalising young Australians.

Where:     Preceding 2012 Population Health Congress, Adelaide Convention Centre, Floor 1, Room 10

When:      12.00 noon Sunday 9 September, 2012

Who:         John Hill, SA Minister for Health and Ageing will launch the report. Several authors and participants will be available to comment:
- Paul Barratt AO
- Dr Alex Wodak AM
- Professor Bob Douglas AO
- Ms Lisa Pryor.

Contacts:   Dr Alex Wodak 0416 143 823,   02 9360 7453
 Lyn Stephens, 02 6288 0823 or 0408 651 563 for an embargoed copy.

Australia needs to consider international evidence in its response to illicit drugs, according to an expert roundtable conducted by Australia21 in July. The roundtable examined outcomes of illicit drug policy in Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Portugal, Switzerland and the Netherlands made major changes, all within the existing international treaties, and increased emphasis on health and social interventions. All gained benefits without increasing drug use. Sweden maintains a strong emphasis on the criminal justice system and reports low levels of drug use but a much higher drug related death rate than the Netherlands and Portugal, with drug related deaths in Sweden increasing.

The Australia21 report, derived from the roundtable, argues that this and other evidence should inform a national conversation on new, more effective responses to illicit drugs here.

·     Former AFP Commissioner, Mick Palmer, said: “Australian police are now better trained, generally better equipped and resourced and more operationally effective that at any time in our history, but, on any objective assessment policing of the illicit drug market has had only marginal impact on the profitability of the drug trade or the availability of illicit drugs.”

·     Lisa Pryor – journalist, law graduate, medical student, mother and roundtable participant – said “In the current environment it is difficult to seek help from the authorities, particularly police, without making things worse. As a parent, one of the things I like about the Portuguese system is that I would feel more confident dobbing drug addicted kids in to the police, confident that the outcome would be help rather than jail.”

·     Paul Barratt AO, Chair of Australia 21, said “Australia's drug policy is not working and that we need to start discussing other options. The meeting agreed on the need for a national summit on our response to drugs and a referral of the cost effectiveness of drug law enforcement to the Australian Productivity Commission.”

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