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1st November 2023 09:50
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan) (09:50): 

Today, 1 November, is International Drug Users Day. This is an annual global day of action when we see those who have been impacted –

Bev McArthur: International criminals day?

David ETTERSHANK: Boom boom – by illicit drug use, their own or that of a loved one, band together to advocate for the rights of people who use drugs and for a better societal response to drug use.

It is a good day to highlight not only the importance but the success of health-led harm minimisation approaches to drug use. It is also appropriate to reflect on the failure of and the harms associated with drug criminalisation. The barriers and stigma around drug use contribute to too many preventable deaths in our community. Our community needs better and more accessible services, such as those offered at the North Richmond medically supervised injecting room: life-saving buprenorphine, onsite hep C testing and wraparound services to support the intravenous drug-using community. Legalise Cannabis Victoria urges the government to act decisively to commission the second safe injecting room in the CBD, to initiate trials of long-acting hydromorphone as a heroin alternative and to establish a community- and event-based program of pill testing.

We need to end the criminalisation of drugs. We need to regulate it, stop the stigmatisation and address problematic use as a health issue rather than simply a criminal justice issue. That is how we save lives and protect the community.


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