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Di Natale: Time to end the harm caused by illicit drugs

Media Release
Richard Di Natale 18 May 2016

Speaking at a conference in Sydney this afternoon, Australian Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale announced a Harm Reduction Innovation Fund to invest in practices that reduce and prevent the harm caused by illicit drugs.

"The old ways of dealing with Australia's longstanding illicit drug issue just don't work. We need to look beyond simply locking people up, to create clever, innovative ways to solve Australia's drug crisis."

Senator Di Natale, a former drug and alcohol clinician, spoke at the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy Conference 2016, calling for Australia to again become a world leader on innovative drug policy.

"The Australian Greens will commit to $10 million per annum over the forward estimates to foster the implementation of innovative harm reduction strategies in Australia," Senator Di Natale said.

"Through investing in harm reduction, we create better health outcomes for drug users and for our communities as a whole.

"It's time for Australia to lead the reform in drug policy and invest in innovative harm reduction methods.

The Australian Greens' Harm Reduction Innovation Fund would be used to trial approaches such as drug testing facilities at music festivals.

"Each year we see young people dying at music festivals because they've taken a pill. How could we not do everything within our power to prevent this? Australia desperately need pill testing facilities, because one more death is simply not acceptable," Senator Di Natale said.

The Harm Reduction Innovation Fund would fund the establishment of further safe injection facilities within areas identified as experiencing above average drug-related problems.

"We must move on from the old ‘law and order' approach to drug use and start to invest in policies that actually work.

"Australia is world renowned for pioneering needle and syringe programs put in place to minimise harm for injectable illicit drugs. There is so much more we can do to prevent unnecessary harm, and we need to commit funding to finding these solutions," Senator Di Natale said.

"People who are addicted to drugs are unwell and they need support from the health sector to break the cycle of addiction.

"When we start to accept that drug use is a health issue, then we'll finally start to make progress," Senator Di Natale said.


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