Positive Life NSW (PLNSW) and the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) are appalled at recent media
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NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA)              Positive Life NSW


Ice Storm? stereotypes evade enlightened debate

30 March 2015
Positive Life NSW (PLNSW) and the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) are appalled at recent media reports demonising meth users in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald (25 March 2014). These reports are not consistent with what we know around methamphetamine use and harm.  Additionally this public portrayal of methamphetamine users contributes to stigma-based barriers for people who may be seeking assistance and to access support.

The articles about the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) report released last week by Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan, does little to provide balanced, informed reporting around what we know about methamphetamine use and harm. Instead their sensational and inflammatory language demonises users and exaggerates harm of ice use in Australia. Whilst the ACC report claims to have identified an expansion in the methamphetamine market, the report states that “figures [in the report] remain unchanged from those reported in 2010.”

The ACC report further states that the overwhelming majority (84.5%) of people who use meth, use it less than weekly. This is in direct contradiction of Duff’s description that meth is “instantly addictive.” They go on to say “we know for a fact that crystal meth poses the highest risk of all drugs.” Research that quantifies drug harm ranks methamphetamine fourth, well behind alcohol and other legal drugs.

Mary Ellen Harrod, CEO of the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUUA) warns against using degrading language about people who use meth: “The scare campaign and language such as “depravity” will further stigmatise methamphetamine users and make it harder for them to seek help. While we don’t have clear evidence that the number of users is increased, the evidence we do have – increased numbers of ED presentations, shortages of treatment places, increased ambulance call outs – suggests that harms are increasing. The best approach is not punitive but one that looks at how to increase access to services and reduce harm to users and the community.”

CEO of Positive Life NSW, Craig Cooper, warns against pathologising people who use the drug:  “For the majority of people their use of ice is not on a daily basis. It is part of culture and pursuit of pleasure. To pathologise drug use, puts up obstacles for people seeking resources and support.”

Positive Life NSW and NUAA echo the Sydney Morning Herald’s call on Sunday 29 March for a drug summit which “requires different approaches. Not one sector – not academics nor government nor community members – has all the answers, but collectively they have a chance of finding new solutions.”

Craig Cooper, CEO of Positive Life NSW, agrees that “solutions go beyond law enforcement. They are found in information and improved access to resources and dedicated assistance for affected communities.”

Craig Cooper, Positive Life NSW CEO – mobile 0422 509 200 or email
Mary Harrod, NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUUA) CEO – mobile 0427 695 003 or email
Positive Life NSW is a NSW-wide community based HIV advocacy and support not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation. We work to promote a positive image of people living with and affected by HIV with the aim of eliminating prejudice, isolation, stigmatisation and discrimination. We provide information and targeted referrals, and advocate to change systems and practices that discriminate against people living with HIV, their friends, family and carers in NSW.

The NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) is the peak drug user organisation in NSW. NUAA was formed in 1989 in the face of a growing HIV epidemic and is an independent, user-driven community-based organisation. NUAA provides education, practical support, information and advocacy to users of illicit drugs, their friends, and allies.
Copyright © 2015 Positive Life NSW All rights reserved.

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