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Uniting launch Fair Treatment

Uniting launch Fair Treatment

Fair Treatment launched in Sydney Town Hall on October 12 with a conversation on drug law reform between Sir Richard Branson (Commissioner of the GCDP), Dr Khalid Tinasti (Executive Secretary of the GCDP) and Dr Marianne Jauncey (Medical Director of Uniting’s MSIC).

Over 2000 attendees packed into Town Hall for the launch, including politicians, lawyers, doctors and the media. It trended #1 on Twitter in Australia and had over 4,000 Facebook live streams. You can watch the full event below, and show your support.

Key Speakers

Sir Richard Branson – Entrepreneur, founder of the Virgin Group, cofounder of The Elders UK, and Commissioner for the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP).

Dr Marianne Jauncey – Medical Director of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC), Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre UNSW, and a Clinical Senior Lecturer at Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney.

Dr Khalid Tinasti, PhD – Executive Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP), Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University, and has previously worked as an independent consultant for UNAIDS, WHO, the Graduate Institute and others.

Marion wishes her son had fair treatment

Marion McConnell’s son did all the things that most kids do – he was an active, young man. One night, he overdosed on heroin. At the hospital, the police questioned him like they were criminals. Unfortunately, this frightened him away from the help that was available and he overdosed again. This time he was on his own. Marion thinks her son’s death was avoidable if it had been treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. She wants the law to change so that we can do all we can to keep our kids alive.

“They were doing the job that the law had told them to do. But the law was wrong.”

Liz calls for Fair Treatment

Liz Gal is a mother who has been in recovery for over 8 years. At the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, she was saved from an overdose. It took her months to get accepted into a women and children’s program, where she got hope for the first time in her life. Now she speaks for her friends who are dying from addiction while waiting for treatment.

“If there were treatment centres for everyone who needed it, I would be the happiest person in the world”

Geoff Gallop Appointed to Eminent Global Panel on Drug Policy

Australia’s ‘successes and failures’ to inform worldwide drug debate

23 July 2019

The Fair Treatment Coalition has heralded as an ‘important breakthrough’ the appointment of the first Australian to the eminent Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Emeritus Professor Geoff Gallop, former WA Premier and an advocate with Harm Reduction Australia, has been appointed to the commission. He joins an eminent panel of commissioners, including former international leaders Helen Clark, Jose Ramos-Horta, and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The late Kofi Annan also served on the commission.

Dr Gallop said he was humbled to be appointed to the commission and he hoped now that Australia’s experiences could contribute to the global debate of “what works and what doesn’t work” when it comes to drug policy.

“It’s important too, that we in Australia learn from the experiences of other countries, such as in Portugal where drugs were decriminalised and funding was boosted for harm minimisation and treatment services,” he said.

“Portugal had a terrible heroin problem prior to these reforms. Today the number of deaths due to drug overdose in Portugal is 0.35 per 100,000. That is over 20 times less than the overdose death rate in Australia (7.5 per 100,000).” [1]

Dr Gallop said there were those who argue we should “just say no” to drugs and others that argue criminalisation reduces drug use.

He said around the world there were jurisdictions that had moved to decriminalise personal drug use and they had not experienced the subsequent expansion in drug use that was predicted by opponents. He said there were lessons here that Australia should heed.

“In the drug debate in Australia we have seen how policy can produce good results when informed by a human-centred, pragmatic approach,” Dr Gallop said.

“Our country has in the past taken new approaches to tackling drugs such as the establishment of a pioneering needle exchange program and the creation almost 20 years ago of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre at King Cross.”

Fair Treatment spokesman, Doug Taylor, said Dr Gallop’s appointment was extremely significant and could help efforts for drug law reform in Australia.

Fair Treatment is a coalition of more than 60 health, legal, community, union and church groups that is advocating for better and more funding for treatment services and for the decriminalisation of drugs in small quantities.

The coalition was created by Uniting (the service and advocacy arm of the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT) following an historic resolution by the church in 2016 – in which it became the only church in the world to adopt a position to decriminalise personal drug use.

The purpose of the Global Commission on Drug Policy is to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs and drug control policies to people and societies.

Dr Gallop is available for interview

Media contact: Martin Thomas 0477 340 704

[1] Kristen Smyth and Susanne Porter, Why we need to change our approach to people who need treatment, October 2018, p 9. http://fairtreatment.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2019/04/FT_DOCV2.pdf

Geoff Gallop release final 18.7 (002)

Shantells Long Walk To Treatment

Shantell wants to be the best mum she can be. But when you have two kids and must travel 400km to get the treatment you need, down days can be hard. She shares her story on how drugs changed the person she was and the long walk to treatment she had to take to get the help she needed.

“I really want to get off drugs. I don’t want to feel like this anymore”