Unharm was founded in 2014. At the time, co-founder and Executive Director Will Tregoning was working on drug policy as a research consultant to government, and becoming frustrated that while the War on Drugs had failed, there was no real alternative. Despite promising reforms worldwide, the discussion about drugs was based on dishonesty about who used drugs and why. Privileged people were relatively immune from the harms of prohibition and, combined with the risks of admitting to illegal drug use, that meant many people with the capacity to help weren’t getting involved. Journalist and author Lisa Pryor wrote about these issues in her 2011 book A small book about drugs. In conversation, Will and Lisa came up with the idea for Unharm and brought in co-founders Miles Hunt, a lawyer and activist, and Gideon Warhaft, an entrepreneur with a long involvement in drug policy. They established Unharm as a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation in 2014.
Will's professional background is in drug and alcohol program evaluation, social policy research and communications consultancy. He completed a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours and a PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney before beginning a career as a research and evaluation consultant to Australian government departments and agencies. Will’s professional experience made him aware of true scale, patterns and demographics of illicit drug consumption across Australia, and the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of the enforcement programs that receive the bulk of the Australian illicit drug budget. Since founding Unharm in 2014 he’s made regular media appearances calling for fair and pragmatic drug policy to reduce drug-related harm.
Gideon Warhaft has worked in harm reduction and drug law reform for many years, motivated by his belief that the war on drugs has been the most damaging and costly social experiment in his lifetime. As editor of the NSW Users & AIDS Association’s (NUAA) User’s News, one of the foremost drug user and harm reduction magazines in the world, he advocated for sensible drug policies and helped educate people to consume drugs more safely. During his time at NUAA Gideon worked closely with many drug policy and service delivery bodies, including the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and NSW Justice Health, and advocated for drug policy reform extensively in the media. As well as his current work with the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and Unharm, Gideon is a regular contributor to the national drug and alcohol magazine Of Substance
Miles is a personal injury lawyer in private practice in Sydney. He attended Macquarie University where he obtained a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy). before being admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW as a solicitor in 2008. Miles was a Senate candidate for Drug Law Reform Australia in the 2013 Federal Election. He is also an amateur comedian who performs regularly at clubs in and around Sydney. Miles believes strongly in legalisation, regulation and taxation of drugs and is committed to promoting reform in Australia. He began his involvement in drug law reform as a reaction to the injustice of the criminalisation of drug users.
Lisa Pryor has an interest in drug policy from a medical, legal and social perspective, an interest she explored in her book A Small Book About Drugs: the debate we need to have about recreational drugs (Allen & Unwin 2011). She has a law degree, with first class honours, from the University of Sydney and is currently completing medical school at the same university. She has worked as a journalist for more than a decade, principally at The Sydney Morning Herald where her roles included reporter, columnist and opinion page editor.