Category Archives: Health

ALEX WODAK. Drug Reform Series- Portugal’s successful drug law reform in 2001

Treating personal drug use as an administrative offence along the lines of a parking violation has worked well for Portugal. It has not only been a public health and public policy success but also a political one.

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CHRIS PUPLICK. Drug Reform series -The evidence for drug policy reform is clear.

Australia’s drug policy regime is ruining people’s lives and causing more misery and cost than it saves.  A new approach is needed, one that is evidence based and recognises the personal, social and economic benefits of policies other than mere … Continue reading

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PETER BAUME. Drug Reform series- Drug policy: None so blind

Current drug policy is based on the unrealistic belief that we can stamp out possession and use of illicit drugs, much like prohibition of alcohol in 1920s America.  It also fails to account for the harm caused by our strictly … Continue reading

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TONY TRIMINGHAM. Drug Reform Series-Don’t punish drug users. Help them instead.

This is mostly a personal story, about my son Damien, who died from heroin use in 1997, at the age of 23.  I feel sure that his death could have been avoided if we had at the time an approach … Continue reading

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HELEN TYRRELL. Drug Reform series-Grasping the nettle: Prisons, drug use and the law

Every day people are imprisoned for drug-related crimes in line with ‘tough on drugs’ policies. It’s time to face the futility and unsustainability of this approach to drug use.  

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KEITH HAMBURGER. Drug Reform series – punishment alone is not the answer.

Australian prisons are severely overcrowded. Much crime is drug related. Some 75% of prisoners have a substance abuse problem. The majority of prisoners are not rehabilitated by their prison experience as evidenced by high recidivism rates, particularly for First Nation … Continue reading

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GINO VUMBACA. Drug Reform series-At last, a government sanctioned pill testing program

We are finally seeing in Australia the first signs of a recognition by government of the important public health benefits of sanctioned pill testing programs.  Law enforcement alone will never overcome the problems that can arise from drug use. Much … Continue reading

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IAN WEBSTER. Drug Reform Series- Drug policy and justice

In the final analysis, drug policy based on prohibition fails to meet the test of fairness and justice in the lives of those most directly affected.

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MICHAEL HART. Drug Reform Series – Drub Policy-an addiction to failure

A careful assessment of our policy towards currently illegal drugs and our struggle with the trade in these drugs brings forth a somber but frank conclusion about the war on drugs.  It should stop.

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RALPH SECCOMBE. Drug Reform series-Production of illicit drugs – the balloon effect

Policy on illicit drugs should be developed on the basis that supply can never be cut off. Production is like a balloon: squeeze it in one place, but it will only bulge out elsewhere. This applies all the way to … Continue reading

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ALEX WODAK. Drug Reform Series -Drug policy: prohibition and punishment is just not effective

The failure and futility of drug prohibition has been well accepted among political elites in Australia for a long time. It is time we debated the merits of regulation, combined with targeted health and social intervention, rather than blunt prohibition … Continue reading

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BILL BUSH. Drug Reform series- High drug incarceration – harms manifest and benefits hard to perceive

At 160 prisoners per 100,000 of population, Australia’s prison rate in 2016 was more than 3 times the rate of the 1940s and 1950s.  The steep increase correlates with an increasingly repressive drug policy and the closure of mental health … Continue reading

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MICK PALMER. Drug Reform series-The Blind Eye of History: from policing alcohol prohibition to policing drug prohibition

Australia has some unhappy laws which result in people using illicit drugs being severely punished. When thinking about this, one should recall laws used half a century ago to criminalise Aboriginal people who drank alcohol.

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MARION McCONNELL. Drug Reform series-The long road to drug law reform

“What should I tell people about your son’s death”, asked our Minister. He was there to discuss arrangements for our son’s funeral. In my overwhelming grief it hadn’t crossed my mind, but now it immediately struck me.  Our son had … Continue reading

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GEOFF GALLOP. Drug Reform series-The politics of drug decriminalisation

Policies around drug decriminalisation should be evidence based, recognise the need for a nuanced rather than fundamentalist approach and take account of the advances made in the field of harm reduction, not just law enforcement.  Reform measures should be premised … Continue reading

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ANN SYMONDS. Drug Reform series -The politics of social change

The War on Drugs has failed.  Not only has it failed to stem the use of illicit drugs but it has also given rise to a host of other issues, including increased crime and corruption and a higher rate of … Continue reading

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TIM WOODRUFF. My Health Record: Major Concerns Continue Despite Backdown By Health Minister.

The Federal Government has finally realised that there are major problems with its implementation of the My Health Record.

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PETER DAY. No womb in the Inn.

Too often the issue of abortion is couched in terms of women’s rights only – “It’s my body. It’s my choice – back off!” 

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RUTH ARMSTRONG and TRENT YARWOOD . Staying in or opting out: My Health Record goes viral for all the wrong reasons (Croakey, 17.07.18)

Ruth Armstrong writes: After years of relative obscurity and sluggish engagement, Australia’s attempt at transitioning the population to the use of individual digital health records via My Health Record was all anyone could talk about yesterday.

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ELIZABETH HLAVINKA. High Opioid-Use Counties Voted Trump in 2016 (Medpage Today 22/6/2018)

Opioids are symptom, symbol of ‘larger social and economic problems’.  Counties with the highest rates of chronic prescription opioid use were far more likely to back Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, a new study of Medicare claims data found.  

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TERRY BARNES. Pharmacy power is a paper tiger (AFR 4/7/2018)

If something looks, walks and acts like a duck, it’s a duck. In the case of pharmacy giant Chemist Warehouse, however, it’s anything but.   

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MICHAEL MULLINS. Treatment of the mentally ill as ‘the next civil rights issue’

Humour touching on mental health is a delicate undertaking that can either enhance or destroy the dignity of those living with mental illness.

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JOHN MENADUE. Domestic violence is a greater threat than terrorism .

Last week in Sydney we saw the tragic death of two teenagers as a result of domestic violence. We know that over 12 months on average one woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner. … Continue reading

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GREG AUSTIN: Counter-terrorism lessons for family murders

It is time to police family violence perpetrators as rigorously as we police terrorists. We can learn from the country’s successes in counter-terrorism work and perhaps apply some lessons to the family violence challenges.

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IAN WEBSTER. Government and the medicalisation of disabilities

Each year two thirds of applications for a Disability Support Pension are rejected; a rejection rate which has doubled in 8 years (Christopher Knaus, Guardian, 8 June 2018).

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TIM WOODRUFF. Health, Class Warfare, and Social Justice

Class warfare has been with us forever. It could be called a fight for social justice. Indeed, it would seem to be integral to the stepwise progress we have made over centuries as we have moved to a society which … Continue reading

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CHARLES LIVINGSTONE. The Melbourne casino, and irresponsible gambling

Allegations by whistleblowers about the way poker machines are operated at the casino in Melbourne have underlined how Victoria’s Casino Control Act allows pokies to operate in ways that encourage harmful gambling.

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DOUG TAYLOR. Kicking goals in the fight against drugs

The heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup puts Portugal on the world stage. But behind the bright lights of the soccer World Cup, Portugal is leading the world in another arena: its efforts to curb drug abuse.  

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Reviewing the Book of Kells’ schedule of medical fees.

Government contributions to medical fees are set out in a large book of rules. It is under review. But are rules for individual fees for individual services the way to go? Fee-for-service may be running out of date.

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JOHN DWYER. Health care reform – Part 2.

Without acceptance of a ten year plan and the creation of an instrument to implement that plan we will not be able to engineer the evidence based structural reforms to our health care system that will improve quality, equity and … Continue reading

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