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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3097 ..

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (10.39): The Canberra Liberals welcome the minister’s outlining of additional removal of restrictions from 11.59 pm this Thursday. We—and I note the significant work of our leader, Elizabeth Lee, and Leanne Castley, our shadow minister for business—have been hoping that we would be in line with New South Wales as things begin to ease there as well.

I thank the minister for continuing to administer in-reach vaccinations for vulnerable communities and for the swift assistance of Aspen Medical to assist in this delivery. I understand the reticence that some people have about getting vaccinated. A calm and gentle approach is best, wherever possible, to encourage people to choose vaccination. Ninety-five per cent vaccination is indeed an impressive achievement, and we support the government and the people of the ACT’s selfless efforts to achieve the freedoms that we all hold dear.

My concern continues for any Canberrans who, during the current outbreak, have been detained in home quarantine for longer than necessary or in unexpected circumstances. I also note the ACT government’s avoidance of creating a two-class society of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, with respect to human rights and freedoms. The community is grateful, and we hope that the worst is behind us. We have avoided a runaway outbreak. Our sincere condolences go to the loved ones of those who have passed away from COVID-19. We look forward to a less fearful future as we become used to living with COVID-19 as an endemic disease.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Alcohol and other drug use—harm minimisation policy

Ministerial statement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (10.41): I rise today to respond to the Ninth Assembly’s resolution of 20 August 2020, which called on the ACT government to report on our continuing work to minimise the harm to individuals and the community from alcohol and drugs.

Harm minimisation is the nationally agreed approach to alcohol and drug consumption in Australia, and it is articulated clearly in the National Drug Strategy 2017-26, which details three pillars—demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction. In the ACT we have been leaders in harm minimisation, particularly by adopting innovative approaches to harm reduction, with a progressive suite of commitments in this space, as outlined within the ACT Drug Strategy Action Plan 2018-21.

We know that prohibition does not work in preventing people from taking drugs that may be considered illegal or illicit. We know that criminalisation does not work. That is why the ACT government has consistently invested in harm reduction as a pragmatic policy approach which recognises that, despite government’s best efforts to reduce illicit drug supply and to educate people, the complete elimination of harmful drug and alcohol use has demonstrably not been possible.

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