The organisation behind the movement.

Unharm History

Unharm was established in 2014 with an aspiration to make drug use positive, ethical and safe. Founding member Lisa Pryor’s book A small book about drugs provided the catalyst in calling for a more open and honest conversation about recreational drug use in Australia.


Despite the progress over the 30 years of ‘harm minimisation’ policy in Australia, drugs were still associated with addiction and crime. But most people who used drugs had safe and positive experiences. Many of those people were successful professionals – sometimes in positions of great power. The silence around those experiences held the status quo in place. It meant prohibitionist politicians could keep telling the same old story of crisis, and they always targeted people with the least power for punishment. Unharm was founded to break the silence and make more positive policy change possible

Unharm has a track record of strong community engagement and campaign success. We did early policy work and organised the campaign for pill testing, and launched a petition that generated over 100,000 supporters and hundreds of media stories to help keep the issue high on the agenda. We helped form an alliance of organisations to stop a federal government bill that would have punished poor people by taking away their welfare payments if they used drugs. We brought hundreds together at an event in Sydney with Portuguese drug policy leader Manuel Cardoso, generating substantial media coverage and meetings with ministers to put decriminalisation of drug use on the policy agenda. And we’ve run forums for members of the community including people who use drugs to contribute directly to the development of Unharm’s strategy.

In 2018, Unharm won a place in the Centre for Australian Progress’ Progress Labs program. Participation in this program helped refine the strategy, plan for organisational growth, and increase philanthropic support. Through 2019 Unharm spawned another successful startup – pill testing service provider The Loop Australia – to help deliver on a long term campaign for pill testing in Australia. In 2020 we launched Story Lab – the first stage in our new strategy to shift the media narrative about drugs.

Our plan to win

Learn about our plan to make drug use legal and safe.

We know it’s a big job to change the conversation and rewrite the rules about drugs. It’s going to take all of us. Read our plan to win.

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