Joint Media Release: Report recommends harm reduction and investment in the alcohol and other drug sector

30 November 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Association ACT (ATODA) have today welcomed the release of a report on the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021 by the ACT Legislative Assembly.

The Bill, aimed at decriminalising small amounts of certain drugs for personal use, will help ensure people who use drugs access appropriate healthcare and supports rather than ending up in the criminal justice system.

The community in the ACT has been overwhelmingly supportive of passing the Bill, with more than 80% of submissions to the Committee advocating for harm reduction approaches to drug use.

The Committee has issued 17 recommendations including:

  • that the bill should be passed
  • that the ACT Government develop new models of care such as specialised methamphetamine services, a women’s day detox/rehab program, and family member support services; and
  • that the ACT Government significantly increase its investment in the alcohol and other drug sector.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “We welcome the findings of the Committee which reflect the position of ACTCOSS.

“We strongly support the passing of this Bill. We believe that when coupled with adequate funding for the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector – as called for by the Committee’s recommendations – it will change people’s lives.

“People who experience social disadvantage are more likely to have their drug use criminalised, rather than treated as a matter of public health. Indeed, many users of drugs suffer greater harm because of discriminatory engagement with the justice and healthcare systems than from drug use itself.

ATODA CEO, Dr Devin Bowles said: “Decriminalisation will reduce harm from drug use by diverting people away from the criminal justice system. It will also reduce the stigma attached to drug use and encourage people to seek treatment services when they need them.

“The AOD sector needs to be adequately resourced to meet this need as it arises. We estimate that capacity must approximately double to meet current demand.

“For those that can access AOD treatment in the ACT, we know that these treatments work well and produce good outcomes for individuals, their families and the broader Canberra community.”

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617; or

Dr Devin Bowles, CEO, ATODA on 0413 435 080.

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