Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3100 ..
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT, better known as ATODA, funded by ACT Health, has developed and is delivering alcohol and other drug training for community services from other sectors.
Regarding consideration of a potential simple offence notice for illicit drugs, it is clear that making illicit drug possession a criminal offence has not stopped people using drugs. Research, evidence and experience indicate that decriminalising possession of small amounts of illicit drugs does not substantially increase the likelihood of people taking drugs. In the ACT we have sought for many years to treat alcohol and other drug use not as a criminal issue but, rightly, as a health issue. We have made real progress. The ACT already has the lowest rate of personal possession offences in Australia and the second highest proportion of people diverted from the criminal justice system for possession, at 78 per cent.
As I mentioned earlier, one recent initiative has been the establishment of the Drug and Alcohol Court to rehabilitate high-risk and high-need offenders with health and justice interventions. Another has been the decriminalisation of personal possession of cannabis. As we know, in February 2021, my colleague Mr Pettersson introduced a private member’s bill to de-penalise the possession of small amounts of several more commonly used illicit drugs, including a potential simple drug offence notice.
The measures that I have outlined today represent significant reform, some of which is relatively novel, both in Australia and internationally. This is a dynamic and cutting-edge area of policy development. During July 2021, select committee inquiry hearings were held to consider the private member’s bill. The committee’s report is due to be tabled by 30 November. There were multiple submissions to the ACT select committee inquiry supporting the private member’s bill, including from drug policy and legal experts, and I look forward to the committee’s report.
In conclusion, this is an exciting time for developments in alcohol and other drug policy. The ACT government will continue its work to ensure that ACT residents who use alcohol and drugs are supported by the best evidence-based policy settings and services. I present the following paper:
Alcohol and other drug use—Harm minimisation—Ministerial statement, 9 November 2021.
That the Assembly take note of the paper.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (10.50): I thank the minister for her statement as required by resolution of the Assembly. I am keen to know far more about our rehabilitative services, including residential programs in the ACT which perhaps were touched on lightly here. I would love to see more information about that.
Knowing that Mr Pettersson’s backbench bill will likely be debated this term and possibly this year, I urge the government that, if such a bill were to pass, the