Final Report — “Help, not Handcuffs:
Evidence-based Approaches to Reducing Harm from Illicit Drug Use” — Tabling
HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [10.05 am]: I am directed to present the final report of the Select Committee into Alternate Approaches to Reducing Illicit Drug Use and its Effects on the Community titled “Help, not Handcuffs: Evidence-based Approaches to Reducing Harm from Illicit Drug Use”.
Hon ALISON XAMON: Madam President, the report that I have just tabled advises the house of the findings and recommendations of the Select Committee into Alternate Approaches to Reducing Illicit Drug Use and its Effects on the Community following its 13-month inquiry.
People always have, and always will, use drugs, despite the best efforts of policy and lawmakers to prevent this. Prohibition has not stopped this. However, there is a growing recognition that drug prohibition has increased harms associated with drug use. In Western Australia, drug treatment services struggle to keep up with demand, particularly in the regions. Our prisons are full of people who are addicted to drugs, yet many re-enter the community without receiving any treatment.
The committee heard that drug use should be treated as a health issue. However, as long as drug use is a punishable offence that attracts criminal penalties, it will continue primarily to be treated as a criminal justice issue. The committee investigated a range of approaches to reducing drug-related harm from around Australia and the world. These include alternative legal frameworks, such as the Portuguese system of administrative penalties, harm reduction measures such as pill testing and alternative treatment approaches such as compulsory crisis detoxification.
Drug addiction is a complex issue, and there is no single approach that can resolve it. However, the committee found that a number of approaches used within Australia and internationally have successfully reduced drug-related harms. The committee makes 96 findings and 46 recommendations that primarily call for refocusing priorities from a criminal justice approach and towards a health, prevention and harm-reduction approach.
Finally, I would like to thank my parliamentary colleagues, Hon Samantha Rowe, Hon Michael Mischin, Hon Colin de Grussa and Hon Aaron Stonehouse for the hard work, diligence and goodwill they brought to the deliberations of the committee. Special thanks to the committee staff, Ms Lisa Penman and Ms Tracey Sharpe, for their extraordinary research and hard work. They were exceptional. I commend the report to the house.