|L to R: Leah McLeod - NUAA, Peter Baume AC, Nicholas Stewart - Dowson Turco, Jude Byrne - AIVL, Will Tregoning - Unharm
|Jude Byrne, AIVL
As well as the importance of drug law reform, she reminded the gathering that many countries do not allow injecting drug users to access treatment, and that along with stigma and discrimination, barriers abound to supporting people who use illicit drugs.
|Will Tregoning, Unharm
Will highlighted that while the policing of individual use is not part of the National Drug Strategy, 80,000 people were still arrested for individual use in 2014.
|Nicholas Stewart, Dowson Turco
Specifically, barriers to employment, housing, and other key areas, exacerbate the challenges of day-to-day living for anyone with a conviction.
The Hon Emeritus Professor Peter Baume AC provided an illuminating address on how things have evolved in the drug and HIV space over the past 30 years. 'Poofters, junkies and whores' were key to the early success of the response to HIV, he posited, as they lead the way.
|The Hon. Emeritus Professor Peter Baume, AC.
He said that compulsory diversion to drug treatment programs is not the answer, as they will not work if the individual is not ready to engage. He strongly advocated in favour of more compassion, treatment and harm minimisation.
The gathering served to highlight the ongoing challenges in achieving drug law reform, but also how progress has been made over time, such as with the advent of needle and syringe exchange programs in response to the AIDS crisis during the 1980s. Onward and upward!