Proposed NSW drug diversion program is a small step in the right direction but it is not enough

10th Oct 2023

Legislation to introduce a pre-court diversion scheme for people caught in possession of small amounts of illicit substances is a small step in the right direction, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“The real solution is getting police out of it altogether, but a diversion scheme is a small step in the right direction,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, national criminal justice spokesperson, ALA. “The report from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice gave the Government many of the answers needed but they must implement these recommendations.

“Drug use and addiction are health and lifestyle issues and need a health-based response. It has been clear for many years that criminal and law enforcement responses to the use of illicit drugs are not working.

 “NSW laws must be updated to reflect changing community expectations, and the increasing evidence that shows a health-based response is the most effective approach to minimising harm.

“Every year millions of dollars are spent on the pointless prosecution of drug users, clogging our court systems and resulting in people – especially young people – ending up with criminal records that last a lifetime. 

“Studies show that decriminalising or legalising drugs does not increase use but instead allows an increased focus on health and social support for users. Drug use is complex, and is frequently linked to financial hardship, mental illness, poor educational opportunities, abuse and other social issues.  

“The quicker we move from the current emphasis on law enforcement to a focus on the broader health and social issues associated with the harmful use of drugs, the more lives that can be saved.”

Tags: NSW Law reform drugs