Justice Reform Initiative Media Release, 21 September 2022
The Justice Reform Initiative has welcomed the much needed investment in health and treatment services in the NSW Government’s response to the Ice Inquiry today, while calling for more work to shift our approach from one that ‘criminalises’ people who use drugs, to one which empowers people to access the supports they require in the community.
Executive Director Dr Mindy Sotiri said the $500 million package included significant investment for treatment providers and was an important step in beginning to address the enormous need for drug and alcohol treatment, support and services in our community, especially in rural and regional areas.
“We need to recognise that drug dependency is a health issue. We cannot ‘solve’ drug problems in our society by locking people up at huge expense – it just doesn’t work,” she said. “The inquiry delivered important recommendations and we are glad so many have received the in-principle support of the Government.
“However, we need to extend this approach by ensuring drug and alcohol misuse is genuinely treated as a health issue outside the justice system. The decriminalisation of the use and possession of prohibited drugs for personal use, is at the heart of this.”
“We commend the work of the Fair Treatment campaign in helping drive this response and the dedication of former Ice Commissioner Dan Howard.”
The Justice Reform Initiative is a multi-partisan alliance supported by more than 120 of our most eminent Australians, including two former Governors-General, former Members of Parliament from all sides of politics, academics, respected Aboriginal leaders, senior former judges, including High Court judges, and others who have added their voices to end Australia’s dangerously high reliance on jails.
The initiative is calling for governments around Australia to move away from an entrenched reliance on incarceration as the mainstay of the criminal justice system and adopt an evidence-based approach to deliver better results for taxpayers, communities and people in the criminal justice system.
For more information and a list of patrons of the Justice Reform Initiative visit https://www.justicereforminitiative.org.au/.
Media contact: Pia Akerman 0412 346 746
The Initiative respectfully acknowledges and supports the current and longstanding efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce the numbers of Indigenous people incarcerated in Australia and, importantly, the leadership role which Indigenous-led organisations continue to play on this issue. We also acknowledge the work of many other individuals and organisations seeking change, such as those focused on the rate of imprisonment for women, people with mental health issues, people with disability and others.