31 Oct Why Uniting had to take the long journey to fair treatment
Uniting has launched the Fair Treatment drug law reform campaign – calling for governments across Australia to decriminalise drug use and advocating for a greater investment into proven treatment programs instead.
The campaign featured a panel forum featuring Executive Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Dr Khalid Tinsasti, Medical Director of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, Dr Marianne Jauncey, and Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson.
“This is something I couldn’t agree with more,” said Sir Richard.
“We’ve just got to get drug policy changed. If we can just start treating drugs as a health problem, not a criminal problem, it’s just blindingly obvious that we’re going to get on top of the problem.”
Beyond the legislative aspect, this is – at its heart – a campaign of compassion that reminds us that people who use drugs are just that – people.
In addition to the panel of experts, two courageous women were at the Fair Treatment event – mothers, neighbours, daughters – who gifted us their very personal stories of drug use.
Liz spoke about her journey of recovery from drug addiction. She says that if treatment was available for all those who need it, she would be the happiest woman in the world.
Shantell wants to get well, but the closest drug treatment centre is 400km away from her home in Dubbo… and she doesn’t have a car.
Liz and Shantell are just two of the 200,000 people in Australia who, every year, are unable to access the drug and alcohol treatment services they desperately need to get well.
“If you find that moment in somebody’s long, difficult life, where they’re ready and able to seek treatment; as a society I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us to be able to provide that,” said Dr Marianne Jauncey.
“The fair treatment campaign is about treating people fairly under the law, but it’s also about access to fair treatment. Because treatment works. There’s not enough. We need more.”
In addition to the panel forum, the campaign also features The Long Walk to Treatment – a journey that will see volunteers journey from Dubbo to Sydney. This is the distance a person in regional New South Wales may have to travel just to reach the drug treatment they need.
Step by step, Uniting will be walking to Sydney in the footsteps and collecting signatures to the campaign and hear from those affected by current drug policies.
Read Medical Director of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, Dr Marianne Jauncey’s blog, ‘Why I love what I do’.
For more information or to join the campaign, visit the Fair Treatment website