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Public Health and Drug Policy Today

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Photo of Sally Warhaft, Richard Di Natale and Fiona Patten

Sally Warhaft, Richard Di Natale and Fiona Patten in discussion at the Wheeler Centre — Photo: Jon Tjhia

In the 1980s, Australia was an early adopter of free needle syringe distribution programmes. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, this controversial harm-reduction strategy played a crucial role in mitigating the spread of HIV among Australian injecting drug-users.

Despite our history of success with harm-reduction approaches, legislators – and large portions of the public – remain squeamish about these policies. Across Australia, parliaments are still more inclined to pass punitive anti-drug laws. But is this working, and is this even cost-effective, in the context of our spreading problems with ice?

Richard Di Natale and Fiona Patten both worked, in differing capacities, in public health prior to their careers in politics. Both have been vocal and active with regards to drug legislation since entering parliament. With Sally Warhaft, the pair discuss the possibilities and limitations of harm reduction in Australia.

Photo of Fiona Patten

Fiona Patten — Photo: Jon Tjhia

Photo of Richard Di Natale

Richard Di Natale — Photo: Jon Tjhia

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.