Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jun 2000
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2000 The Sydney Morning Herald
Contact:  GPO Box 3771, Sydney NSW 2001
Fax: +61-(0)2-9282 3492
Author: Tony Trimingham


I went to the drug conference expecting it to be conservative. I
expected to hear more about abstinence and zero tolerance than more
pragmatic and compassionate approaches.

I expected a swipe or two at the NSW Government's trial injecting
facility. I also expected to hear something about prevention, as this
was the conference subtitle. I even thought I might learn about
Swedish strategies that are positive.

What we got, however, was a parade of speakers who proved the prime
purpose of this gathering was to get rid of the injecting facility,
scare parents to death about cannabis, and obliterate the benefits,
past and future, of harm-reduction strategies.

The Swedish "expert" told us to follow their example: "Just say No"
school drug education; jail sanctions for possession of all illicit
drugs; forced long-term treatment farms; no alternative treatments -
methadone, etc; no clean needle programs.

The conservatives have a right to their say on all drug matters but it
is sad that drug prevention strategies were the casualty of this
conference which might have added to, rather than diminished, the
Australian strategy.

As much as we would like our kids to forsake all drugs, we have to
live with the reality that it's not going to happen - especially if we
continue to feed them so-called education that they just don't believe.

Tony Trimingham,
Family Drug Support,
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