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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1204 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

help. But let us get a strategy that does look at a wide range of options, one that looks at different ways of attending to the many different sorts of people and problems that we have. Let us look at that variety. Let us be as determined and as specific as we can, and I think, in the end, if we can do that we will have a good strategy.

MS TUCKER (5.09): I am pleased to see that the Government has produced this draft drug strategy. As members are no doubt aware, I have on several occasions expressed concern about how the Government and Mr Moore in particular have managed the consultation process in regard to initiatives related to drug policy. As someone who is sympathetic also to the agenda of drug law reform and progressive approaches to drug issues, I have been concerned that the Chief Minister and the Minister may do the drug debate more harm than good by pushing the more controversial measures of their agenda without due regard for proper process or the sensitivity of the issue.

It is essential that the community have confidence in the processes and feel included in development of policy in this area. Without this there is less likely to be support for drug law reform or the harm minimisation approach. We need to work with the community to find solutions to this serious social problem.

The evaluation of the 1995-97 drug strategy and the draft strategy acknowledges that there is a poor understanding in the community of the harm minimisation approach. The concept of harm minimisation will not be owned or accepted by the community if it is not explored or allowed to be questioned or challenged. To some of us it is a reasonable approach and to others it seems total madness. We have to have open discussion on it. There is a section in the strategy on coordination, collaboration and consultation. We hear claims from the Minister that he does consult, but the practice is unfortunately somewhat different.

The proposal to establish a trial for the safe injecting room is a good example. There are good arguments to establish such a facility, and there are also legitimate concerns to be addressed. It is absolutely critical that such a proposal be seated in a holistic and comprehensive drug strategy which is developed in consultation with and has reasonably wide acceptance by the community. After Mr Moore sprung the proposal on the Assembly I spoke with him and cautioned him about his approach. I asked him to wait until an evaluation of the last drug strategy was made public and a new drug strategy was agreed upon. I also asked him to initiate a process of thorough consultation on drug abuse similar to that held in Melbourne.

For those members who are not aware, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne initiated a consultation process on reducing the harm. Consultation occurred with stakeholders at three levels: Community consultation through a series of forums; focus groups for significant stakeholders; and expert workshops to discuss future directions. The results of these forums helped inform Melbourne's drug action plan. The themes of the community forums were "Reducing the harm", "The communication gap - young people and illegal drugs", and "New approaches to responding to illegal drugs". There were also three forums for local business.

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