During 2017 Families and Friends was still finding its feet after the loss of Brian
McConnell with whom the organisation has been so much identified from the time of
its establishment. That’s not quite correct because with Brian came Marion and with
Marion came Brian. Marion who understandably would have liked nothing better than
to have waved farewell to the organisation, allowed herself to be drafted into the vital
role of secretary. The most gratifying event of the year was the recognition of Marion.
On Friday 28 April the Governor General invested her with Membership of the Order
of Australia. It is fitting that she joined Brian as a recipient of that national award.
Marion is firm that though we support each other, we are not after sympathy. Our
passion is justice: to right a profound wrong.
And we are getting there. Alex Wodak, the president of the Australian Drug Law
Reform Foundation with which Families and Friends has always been associated,
reckons that 2017 has been a bumper year for drug law reform what with
- ACT Government approval of pill testing,
- Victorian Government commitment to establish a medically supervised
injecting room in Melbourne;
- Support for the Victorian initiative from the News Corporation Herald-Sun;
- progress in making medical cannabis available; and
- growing community support for less punitive solutions. The 2016 Household
survey reported that:
“Except for cannabis, the most appropriate perceived action for someone
found in possession of small quantities of drugs, was referral to treatment or
an education program” and
“For cannabis the most popular action was a caution, warning or no action
and this increased in 2016“.
Yes, we’ve made progress but we’re not there yet. This is not the time to back off.
We need to make a final push to put ourselves out of business!