‘President’s Remarks’ by Bill Bush

“Welcome, my name is Bill Bush, president of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform.

We gather again at this beautiful place that has become sacred to us to remember those whom we will name, to celebrate and honour the beauty of their life and to comfort one another.

We do so conscious that this land had been sacred for thousands upon thousands of years before we who are later comers appeared.

I want, specifically to honour, those of you of the original inhabitants among us along with your elders past and present.

The dispossession of all that you held dear and the contemptuous ignorant dislocation of your culture, society and values that went with that have parallels for what brings the rest of us here.

So for you a misguided, cruel response to drug problems is a triple whammy.

Applying the criminal law to remedy a recognised health condition. How stupid is that?

The control wrested from our hands.

The fracturing of family, friendship and community.

The banishment to the margins.

The crushing of hopes and dreams.

The despair that leads dependent drug users to take their own life at 19 times the rate in the general community.

Stigma and blame when help and support were most needed.

The social problems and suffering so easily avoided if only we engaged both our brains and our hearts.

We come together to remember, to grieve, to celebrate the beauty of their life and to take strength from each other.

To bear witness that a better world is possible.

To return to the world empowered by that conviction and to resolve to see that day.

We will hear today from Adriana Buccianti who will speak of her son.

I honour her presence here and others who have summoned the courage to speak at previous ceremonies: Ann Finlay spoke last year, Jo Smith who spoke the year before; Marion McConnell and others.

The song we have just heard is special to Marion.

If you have not already notified Marion of a name you would like spoken, please see her now.

Rachel Stephen-Smith

  • the minister responsible for health and most of the rest of government
  • recognition of the impact of local government
  • you have worked with the despised and neglected and you have been acquainted with grief
  • committed to making a difference
  • passionate about fairness
  • riding for the Disabled coach
  • as an economist I hope you will see how effective accessible and non-discriminatory drug keep treatment can save the budget bottom line.

Rev’d Roger Munson

Roger has been an Anglican priest for 30 years.

He has always worked with vulnerable people.

In Saint Kilda as a layperson he worked with young people struggling with addiction.

Currently he advocates for people with a disability, with mental health issues and for older people and their carers need of support and being heard


If you would like to keep in touch with us please register your interest with Joan at the table over there.

You will also have received a flyer about a gala free screening tomorrow of Uniting’s moving film, Half a Million Steps at 6 PM at the Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton.

Uniting has helped make today’s ceremony possible.

Like us Uniting is seeking to build a force for Fair Treatment – treatment that is effective, accessible and non-stigmatising. Follow them and us on social media.

And to all of you, thank you for coming today and making this a special time for each other.

We always appreciate feedback and comment and I invite you to leave such feedback in our guest book. If you wish to be notified of next year’s ceremony please indicate that also in the guest book.

Spend some time reading the plaque on the rock and take the colours away with you in the form of the green and white ribbons.

And importantly take some time to get to know one another over refreshments. “