Politicians need to hear from you

Unharm has been invited to make a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into drug law reform. You are invited to contribute to Unharm’s submission to the Inquiry. You don’t have to live in Victoria to take part.

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Inquiry terms of reference

The terms of reference for this inquiry are:

1. The effectiveness of laws, procedures and regulations relating to illicit and synthetic drugs and the misuse of prescription medication in minimising drug-related health, social and economic harm.

2. The practice of other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions and their approach to drug law reform and how other positive reforms could be adopted into Victorian law.

Unharm submission and you

The Unharm submission will combine research-based policy analysis with honest accounts of personal experience.This is the same format that we used for the submission last year to Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement’s Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine, which you can read here. If you have any comments or questions about the Inquiry or the proposed Unharm submission, please let me know - will@unharm.org

First-person accounts of lived experience will be hugely important in this Inquiry. You’ve probably noticed that people who use prohibited drugs are silenced, stigmatised or caricatured in drug policy discussions. You can help the politicians understand that people who use prohibited substances are real people, and force them to think about how the laws actually affect our lives.

You can write about your experiences of current drug laws, or about how you would respond to law reforms, or both. Check out the list of questions below and send in an answer to as many questions as you like.

Questions

1. Your experiences of current drug laws

1.1 What are your experiences of the criminalisation of drug use and how that has affected your life?

1.2 What are your experiences of the criminalisation of drug supply and how that has affected your life?

1.3 What are your experiences of passive alert detection dog operations and how they have affected your life?

2. How you would respond to law reforms?

2.1 How would you use the information from a drug safety testing ('pill testing') service and how would it affect your life?

2.2 How would you respond if drug use was decriminalised and how would it affect your life?

2.3 How would you respond if recreational cannabis markets were legalised and how would it affect your life?

2.4 How would you respond if heroin assisted treatment was available and how would it affect your life?

Send your contribution to me by 9am on Wednesday March 15 at will@unharm.org. Your contribution will be made anonymous unless you specifically request to be named in the submission.

Keep it short because that makes it more likely that a politician will actually take the time to read it - as a guide, try to keep it to 200 words or less per question.

For more detail about the Inquiry, see their webpage.

Another thing that's cool

One option that's on the table is for Unharm to make a joint submission with the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT University, Melbourne. If this goes ahead, we would work with Stan Winford, Principal Co-ordinator of Legal Projects at the Centre. Stan is a practising lawyer who has held a number of senior roles in government and community legal services both in legal practice and legal policy.

The Centre for Innovative Justice works to ensure that the justice system acts as a positive intervention in people’s lives. This means that they are interested in looking at the justice system from the perspective of people like us, as well as looking at how to improve the way the justice system responds.

A joint submission could make a powerful contribution to this Inquiry process.

Stan and I have discussed this idea and we are pretty sure that there is alignment between Unharm and the Centre to make the collaboration work. Whether this plan goes ahead will be finalised over the next couple of weeks. If you have any comments or concerns about the potential collaboration, please let me know - will@unharm.org

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Thanks for reading, I hope you can be part of this.

- Will


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