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Public Health and Drug Policy Today

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 will discuss the possibilities and limitations of harm reduction in Australia.

Who?

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, the Fifth Estate, now in its sixth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Portrait of Richard Di Natale

Richard Di Natale

Dr Richard Di Natale is the leader of the Australian Greens. He was elected to the federal parliament in 2010 and re-elected in 2016. He was the first Greens’ first Victorian Senator. His portfolios include health, multiculturalism and sport.

Portrait of Fiona Patten

Fiona Patten

In November 2014, Fiona was elected a Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for the Northern Metropolitan region. She is one of a number of cross-benchers who hold the balance of power in Victoria’s Upper House. Fiona is the founder and leader of REASON, a future-focused, evidence-based movement committed to delivering equality, sustainability and freedom through new methods of political engagement and pragmatic consultation. 

 

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This is a free event. Bookings are essential. We recommend arriving early to secure your seat. Read our ticketing FAQs here.Booked out

The Fifth Estate

Sally Warhaft has been the Wheeler Centre’s in-house news anchor since 2012. In 2018 – over 100 episodes in – the anthropologist, broadcaster and intrepid interviewer’s fortnightly live series continues, as she responds to the most important debates of the day and reignites stories that have fallen off the front pages.

Every second Tuesday, Sally 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. It’s an event series and a live podcast taping rolled into one. Topical guests are announced in the weeks prior to events: keep an eye on our website (or in the Wheeler Weekly) for updates.

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