Dr Alex Wodak
Dr Alex Wodak is a physician who was Director of the Alcohol and Drug
Service, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney (1982-2012) but has now retired.
Major interests include prevention of HIV among people who inject
drugs, prevention of alcohol problems and drug policy reform. Dr. Wodak
is President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and was
President of the International Harm Reduction Association (1996-2004).
He helped establish the first needle syringe programme and the first
supervised injecting centre in Australia when both were pre-legal and
often works in developing countries on HIV control among among
people who inject drugs. Dr Wodak helped establish the National Drug
and Alcohol Research Centre, the Australian Society of HIV Medicine
and the NSW Users AIDS Association.
Harm reduction is a pragmatic, rational and humane approach to nicotine use that has shown its potential to deliver one of the greatest public health breakthroughs of all time. As with many other efforts at risk reduction, it empowers people to make better personal health decisions rather than punishing them for behaviours over which they have limited control. The PPHA is fighting for the right to health and I commend them for their work and their commitment to pursuing policies based on reason, science, and human rights.
We need to confront the issue of addiction head-on and commit wholeheartedly to an evidence -based public health response. This is not going soft on crime. Rather it is going smart on crime by reducing the risk of reoffending. It is well beyond time to move away from ineffective and punitive approaches that do not work, cost lives and cost us in terms of the huge wasted expenditure in the criminal justice system. Doing time does not and cannot address the underlying causes of substance abuse. Instead of breaking the cycle of offending we are stigmatising offenders and reinforcing negative behaviour, putting off to another day the hope of rehabilitation. Supporting specialist Courts, sentencing options and treatment programs instead of jail in appropriate cases, will save lives, save money and give hope.
Fiona Patten is the founder and leader of the Australian Sex Party and a
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for the Northern Metropolitan region. She came to politics after 20 years of lobbying for the rights of organisations involved in the sexual rights movement – including small businesses, sex workers, HIV/AIDS organisations, adult media and online anti-censorship groups. Before that she was an established independent fashion designer with her own label called Body Politics. Her political career began as an AIDS educator with ACT sex worker advocacy group, WISE. She also held positions on the Board of the AIDS Action Council, as an AFAO (Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) Committee Member and a member of the ACT Attorney General’s Sex Industry Committee. Before being elected, she was best known as the CEO of Australia’s national adult goods and services lobby group, the Eros Association. She ran a number of high profile campaigns in this role, many of which saw off bans on adult material, restrictions on sexual behaviour and a focus on the real villains involved in sexual abuse. Frustrated and deeply disappointed with the lack of social change on censorship, drug law reform, euthanasia and gay marriage, she set up and registered the Australian Sex Party in 2009 with a strong focus on civil libertarian and personal freedom issues. She became the first political leader to call for a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in religious institutions. In the 2014 Victorian state election she won her seat in the Victorian Legislative Council and a balance of power position.
Harm Reduction Australia (HRA) is a national organisation for individuals committed to reducing the health, social and economic harms potentially associated with drug use. Our members are primarily people working in the health, welfare and law enforcement sectors, but also include concerned family members, consumers, students and other individuals wanting to advocate for the continuation and expansion of harm reduction policies in Australia. The Board and members of HRA are people who understand the complexities of drug use and are advocating for the safest, most effective ways to protect the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities addressing drug use. In essence, HRA aims to ensure that drug policies in Australia first and foremost do no harm and provide real benefit to Australian society through evidence-based and humane responses to drug use.
Michael John (Mick) Palmer AO, APM is a barrister and 33 year career police officer with extensive experience in police leadership and corporate governance, reform in community, national and international policing and security. He has had an active interest in human rights and illicit drug reform for many years.
Nick has a background in education and policy research and now leads SSDP Australia. Nick has worked as a peer in harm reduction service provision, and in secondary school drug education policy and curriculum development, research and classroom teaching. Nick now represents students and young people in a range of capacities at the national and international levels, while working with other young leaders on the ground to transform Australia’s approach to drugs based on evidence, honesty and justice.