Disadvantaged & vulnerable Tasmanians need support - not prosecution – in health crisis

2nd Apr 2020

A moratorium on drug offences and help for the homeless are needed to keep all Tasmanians safe during this public health emergency, according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“Police resources should not be spent on minor matters, such as drug offences, but instead directed towards facilitating the public health outcomes that we are all working towards,” said Mr Fabiano Cangelosi, State President, ALA. 

“We are aware of many people in our community who are finding it very difficult to follow the new COVID-19 public health orders because they simply don’t have anywhere to live, or because they have a drug dependency and are fearful of prosecution or being forced into a medically-unsupported withdrawal whilst in quarantine.

“The Tasmanian government could improve the effectiveness of our lockdown by announcing a general amnesty on prosecution for possession and use of controlled drugs for those who disclose to police or health workers that they are drug users.

“There is urgent need to reduce the number of people coming into contact with the criminal legal system during this health crisis and taking this important step would help.

“There is also the need for the government to make arrangements for homeless people. We have a housing crisis in Tasmania and large numbers of people have unstable accommodation.

“People who ‘couch surf’ and move between friends and associates are no longer able to do this, and most homeless services have closed their doors to new tenants.

“The government must provide resources to ensure that people who have been denied their usual informal accommodation are not left without suitable accommodation during the lockdown, and are otherwise unable to comply with the isolation directions made by the Director of Public Health.

“The public health needs of all people living in Tasmania need to be considered in this emergency.” 

Tags: Tasmania Criminal justice drugs COVID-19