Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

committed to preventing tragedy that arises from illicit drug use

10th Annual Remembrance Ceremony Program

for those who ‘lose their life to illicit drugs’
Weston Park, Yarralumla, ACT
Monday, 7th November, 2005



Welcome and Introduction -     Brian McConnell, President

‘Reflections’ –     Jan Lee

Musical item –     Dominic Chaseling - Flute
                                Haibei Sing - Violin

Address: Senator Gary Humphries

Remembrance of those who have lost their life to illicit drugs

Reading of names – Rev’d Peter Walker, Minister of Wesley Uniting Church, Canberra

Placing of flowers at foot of memorial

Musical item

Address: The Rev’d Peter Walker

Musical item

Similar ceremonies have been held over this weekend in Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

Why Remember

This tree and rock mark the determination that brought together a handful of people ten years ago to remember with love and respect their family members who had died from drug overdoses and to do what they could to ensure that this suffering would not be repeated.

The journey they started continues. It is a journey that each of us joins by coming today under the tree's beauty and embrace. It is a journey out of the darkness of shame and despair of our isolation to the celebration together of regrowth in the hope of this spring day.

Our individual journeys from darkness into light have not been easy. We have all had to face truths that we would rather not have had to. Probably we are still in search of an explanation. Our journey this far to join together in the light is thus a journey that seeks after truth. It is only in the light of truth that we can fully honour those who we remember and it is only in truth that we can end this suffering.

In the darkness we have come from we have experienced how cruel and confronting truth can be. We can perhaps understand why the community at large prefers to turn the other way. We have met many masks of fear: being cut by other family and friends; cruel comments that throw around part but only a small part of the truth; blame; lectures from those who "know better". We know the struggle of those we have loved to shake a dependence. We have seen how much higher the hurdles are set for their dependence compared to other dependences that are just as insistent.

We have seen their human worth in the midst of the heroism of their struggle. Their life is in no way diminished by their dependence: it was and remains precious.

This year we think in particular of one young woman, Neri Bubb, who took her own life because of those high hurdles. Her death is not counted as a drug death. It is a youth suicide.

Some teenagers who try drugs just because they are there get into trouble with them. They become a problem of school drop out. Many look to drugs to ease the pain of depression or cope with torments of the mind. They are a mental health statistic. Our prisons are full of people with mental disorders who have a substance dependency. They are criminals. Drugs are a relief to the stresses of coping financially but make the situation worse. This is a problem of poverty or homelessness. Love alone is not enough to raise a child in competition with a craving. This becomes an issue of child protection. The silos of the mind become the refuge of Pontius Pilate.

Light illuminates all: the worth, the pain, the blame, the denial, the averted eyes, the connections that are not drawn. The truth may indeed be confronting but the greatest betrayal of all is not to seek it.

The locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) under which we are gathered was chosen because of its particular associations for the family of one of our members whose brother died in 1996. The tree then was bare. Its thorns stood out against the winter sky. But spring has brought new growth and white blossoms. Let its beauty and the confidence in its renewal inspire us.

The plaque and stone will continue to stand watch by the tree during the coming seasons. Let our meeting next year indeed be the celebration we yearn for of the end of death and suffering from illicit drugs - the most fitting memorial for those we remember today