by Shelley Smith
The government has finally released the findings from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’.
Now that they have acknowledged the report, it’s worth acknowledging how similar the response is to previous reports that have been handed down. After the first pill testing trials in the ACT, the favourable findings were disseminated widely. After the tragic deaths at live music festivals last year, the Coroner landed her damning report, calling for, amongst other things, the government to pilot pill testing in NSW. And now the ‘Ice’ Commissioner has joined the chorus, calling for a pill testing pilot alongside a raft of other harm reduction measures in NSW.
Each time, pill testing — and measures like it — have been ruled out.
It begs the question: how many more experts — both government-appointed and independent — have to recommend something before it sees the light of day?
The value of this report is in its foundations; harm reduction, the importance of treatment, and a health-centred approach to drug use underpin all its findings. It calls for greater consideration of the factors underlying harmful substance use — mental health issues, socio-economic disadvantage, trauma — and asks that resources be invested in prevention, as opposed to trying to fix the problem once it has already manifested.