Michael Kirby, Bob Carr, John Brogden and Dr Ingrid van Beek will headline the upcoming Harm Minimisation Summit, being hosted at NSW Parliament by the NSW Cross-Party Harm Minimisation Roundtable.
Eminent international jurist and former High Court Judge Michael Kirby will give a keynote address on the international context for harm minimisation, drawing on his experience as a Member of the UN Global Commission on HIV and the Law.
Former Premier Bob Carr, former Opposition Leader John Brogden and the founding Medical Director of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC), Dr Ingrid van Beek, will discuss the merits of harm minimisation and the evolution of drugs policy in New South Wales.
The Summit, scheduled for August 11, will bring together medical experts, drug users, law and order professionals, social welfare organisations, researchers and parliamentarians from across the political divide with the aim of renewing the debate on harm minimisation approaches to illicit drugs policy.
Other speakers include:
- Professor Nicholas Cowdery, former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions
- Dr Marianne Jauncey, Medical Director MSIC
- Dr Mary Ellen Harrod, CEO of NSW Users and AIDS Association
- Dr Nadine Ezard, Clinical Director, St Vincent’s Alcohol and Drug Service
- Dr Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Foundation
- Dr Monica Barrett from the National Drug and Alcohols Research Centre
- Karen Price, Deputy CEO of the AIDS Council of NSW
Stakeholders who work in alcohol and drug addiction, social work and education, homelessness and youth services, mental health, public health and law have been invited to participate. Groups representing users and families of users will also attend.
The NSW Cross-Party Harm Minimisation Roundtable was formed this year by Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi, Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, Labor member for Summer Hill Jo Haylen, and Liberal MLC Shayne Mallard.
Statement from the NSW Cross-Party Harm Minimisation Roundtable
“The Summit is a starting point to renew the debate about harm minimisation in NSW.
“The Summit will bring participants from across the sector and from across the State to the NSW Parliament to talk about the important challenge of illicit drug use and harm minimisation.
“The participation of such eminent individuals sets the tone for what we intend to be a meaningful discussion that is above party politics.
“Each brings a wealth of experience – as politicians, medical practitioners, researchers or at the peak of the legal profession – that will throw new light on the debate about harm minimisation.”
Quotes attributable to Mehreen Faruqi MLC
“NSW needs to restart the conversation about drug law reform and harm minimisation. It is clear that wholesale prohibition of drugs has not worked, and we need to be considering new strategies.
“The summit is an opportunity for the community, including experts and stakeholders, to meet with policymakers and reflect on current and past debates and successes, while canvassing options for reform in the future.”
Quotes attributable to Alex Greenwich MP
“Drugs policy must focus on preventing death and injury, encouraging those with problems to get effective help and on reducing drug-related crime. It’s time that we had an open discussion about drugs focussed on reducing harm in the community without hype, hysteria, moralism and stigma. The summit will provide an opportunity to hear from health professionals, enforcement officers, people who have experienced addiction and policy leaders about alternative approaches to law and order that minimise harm.”
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen MP
“Harm minimisation has been proven to reduce the harmful impacts of drug use, both on individuals and the community as a whole.”
“The best solutions are often found by reaching across the political divide. I’m so pleased to be working with committed colleagues to look at the evidence, trial different approaches and chart a course forward for NSW together”
Quotes attributable to Shayne Mallard MLC
'I am pleased to participate in this non-partisan round table with fellow members of parliament. I come to this issue with extensive experience in dealing with impacts of drug harm both on communities and users. It's clear that there is no silver bullet solution to illicit drug abuse. Elected representatives should vigorously examine all approaches to the drug problem with a view to testing strategies to respond to changing circumstances. The overriding objective must be to reduce harm and save the lives of those who continue to experiment with illicit drugs. "