HRA Newsletter
June 2016
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Welcome to the June 2016 Newsletter.

In May 2016 HRA wrote to all major political parties to request their responses on a range of drug policies. The results were better than expected for some, somewhat disappointing for others but overall a reminder of the work needed to be done if we want to see evidence guide drug policy across Australian politics.

The results can be seen at - HRA 2016 FEDERAL ELECTION GUIDE ON DRUG POLICY

The impact of the recent UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs still adversely resonates through the drug policy world. The inability of UNGASS to even mention the words harm reduction has seen this outdated view move to HIV prevention where some countries sought to remove any reference  to harm reduction at the recent High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS at UN headquarters. The absurdity of this view on harm reduction is only surpassed by the callousness of the results it creates. In contrast, I recommend viewing the New Zealand Drug Foundation speech at UNGASS for a clear and concise critique of the harm being done by such an approach – you can view the presentation here.

Gino Vumbaca
Harm Reduction Australia

A Great Advocate Passes Away

It is with great sadness that we announce that Brian McConnell has passed away after a battle with illness.

As a founder of Family and Friends for Drug Law Reform, Brian was a true harm reductionist. He never backed down from his beliefs and his resolve, along with his wonderful wife Marion, were unbreakable.

On behalf of Harm Reduction Australia and the many that benefited from knowing and working with Brian we say goodbye but he will live in our thoughts and memories as a model for what it means to be compassionate, brave and knowledgeable. 

Vale Brian McConnell – you will be greatly missed.

Gino Vumbaca and Tony Trimingham

Brian and Marion McConnell       FFDLR

Medicinal Cannabis Documentary

A new documentary on medicinal cannabis (featuring many HRA Advocates) is being released soon – you can view the trailer and get details on when and where to see it.

The Greens' Harm Reduction Innovation Fund

HRA welcomes the Greens announcement that it will restore Australia’s reputation as a leader on innovative drug policy through the establishment of a Harm Reduction Innovation Fund.  By investing in harm reduction, we create better health outcomes for drug users and for our communities as a whole.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

HRA is pleased to be working closely with SSDP Australia - and is pleased to promote their work wherever we can - please see their latest newsletter at newsletter. The SSDP newsletter aims to inform Australian students and SSDP Australia members on current campaigns in drug law reform around the country and across the world. It provides you opportunity to be involved in upcoming events in which to network and campaign with others to raise awareness of the need for a reform of our current drug policy.

A broad consensus? It's time for change. #SupportDontPunish

HRA is a member of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)  and they have produced a new video under the banner of the Support Don’t Punish campaign. The video is based on footage from the UNGASS 2016 and sheds light on the glaring contradictions at the heart of the international drugs “consensus”, highlighting the increasing support for policies that depart from repression and punishment. – you can see the video here.

Drug Checking Services

Many organisations, including HRA, are raising the need for Australia to introduce pill testing (or drug checking services) to protect the lives of people at festivals and other events. One of these other organisations is Unharm which has produced a very informative paper on drug checking services in Australia. This brief provides answers to key questions about drug checking services, like ... what are drug-checking services? Why check drugs? What do drug checking services look like around the world? What do they do? How would a service sit within the existing policy context in Australia? What are the legal implications of a service? And what related services and programs are currently operating in Australia?

FDS Remembrance Ceremony - 21st July

Family Drug Support will again be recognising lives lost to drugs and alcohol by marking the Annual Remembrance Day – an international event with ceremonies all around the world. They will be holding five ceremonies on the 21st and 23rd July in Sydney (2), Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. See the FDS website for details.

Drug Harm Index

Earlier this year HRA asked Dr Michael McFadden to prepare a paper on the Drug Harm Index used by some law enforcement agencies for use on our website.  The paper explains the history, concepts and approach of the Index and we hope that this will be an informative piece for many of our members. You can read the paper here.

Breaking the Ice:  How We Will Get Through Australia's Methamphetamine Crisis

HarperCollins have just published a book by Matt Noffs (HRA Board Member) “Breaking the Ice” - the book has received praise from the likes of Richard Branson who has said

"Matt Noffs casts aside the hysteria and misinformation that sadly seem to get in the way of every effort to have a rational debate about drug use. Instead, Matt takes a fresh look at the issue, informed by years of experience on the frontlines, working with people who use drugs, their families and the medical community. It’s a comprehensive, 360-degree analysis of drug use and drug policy in Australia, and it underscores the case for sensible reform that grows stronger every day. The so-called war on drugs has been a colossal failure, and this book offers further proof that we must treat drug use as a public health issue, not as a crime."

While the book’s title focuses on the methamphetamines - the book’s premise centres around the story of Harm Reduction in Australia. You can get the book at the Booktopia pre-order site before it hits shelves in over 200 bookstores nationally very soon.

Ending AIDS in 2030: Do not leave Asia-Pacific Behind

HRA is proud to be a co-signatory of the Asia-Pacific Civil Society Statement to the UN High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, which took place last week in New York. See the statement here.

Latest Policy Developments and News

So it's Hillary? On Drugs, She’s Barely Better Than TrumpOur only alternative to the nightmare of Donald Trump’s drug policy is depressingly mediocre. So, drug policy reformers, here’s the bad news—no matter who gets elected, we’re headed backwards the next four-to-eight years!

Tasmania: testing festival drugs can stop people dying:  Police Minister Rene Hidding did himself and the Tasmanian community no good at all last week with his arrogant, dangerous dismissal of a sensible idea by the Greens for pill testing to be available at music festivals.
A New Direction on Drugs:  “We can’t arrest and incarcerate addiction out of people. Not only do I think it’s really inhumane, but it’s ineffective and it costs us billions upon billions of dollars to keep doing this.”

More HR news is available on our website at IN THE NEWS 

ASHM Conferences


INHSU 2016.  7 – 9 September 2016, Oslo Norway

The 5th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users is one symposium you definitely don’t want to miss.

10th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference.  29 September – 1 October 2016, Gold Coast, Australia

The 10th Australasian Viral Hepatitis 2016 Conference will be taking place on the Gold Coast from 29 September – 1 October 2016.

The Australasian Sexual Health Conference. 14 – 16 November 2016, Adelaide, Australia

It’s time to turn everything you know about Sexual Health on its head and ‘Rethink Sexual Health’ at the 2016 Australasian Sexual Health Conference, 14 – 16 November 2016, at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, South Australia.

The Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference 2016. 16 – 18 November 2016, Adelaide, Australia

The Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference (26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine) is the premier HIV Conference in Australia and the Asia and Pacific region. Delegates to the conference come from a range of professional backgrounds including basic science, clinical medicine, community programs, education, epidemiology, indigenous health, international and regional issues, nursing and allied health, policy, primary care, public health and prevention, and social research. 

Join Harm Reduction Australia and help achieve more humane, effective and balanced drug policies in Australia and beyond.  Join now
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You can call us on Tel: +61 (0) 408 244 552
or mail us to:  Harm Reduction Australia, PO Box 7363, Leura  NSW  2780, Australia
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