The New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme welcomes the government’s announcement this morning, and its long awaited response to our current public health crisis relating to synthetic drugs.
“We have been facing a public health crisis that needs an urgent response, people using synthetics and communities most affected are often the poor and most vulnerable in our community.” Says Kathryn Leafe, NZNEP Executive Director. “People who use drugs are our sisters, brothers, sons, daughters. People who use drugs are too often stigmatised and blamed for problems they are seen to have brought on themselves”.
“The government’s proposals represent a shift in approach and a move towards a more health based response to drugs and drug harms. We applaud this important and significant change in direction”
“New Zealand led the way in the late 1980’s with the world’s first nation-wide state sponsored needle exchange, a move that has led to low rates of HIV amongst people who inject drugs in New Zealand. This reduction in drug harms has brought social and economic benefit. It is now time for New Zealand to lead the world again and develop further innovative responses.”
“The proposals begin to address some of the barriers to accessing support. The criminalisation of use and possession can stop people asking for help. Police discretion in relation to possession for personnel use is a very welcome first step.”
“People who use drugs should not be criminalised merely for their use of drugs and we commend the government for taking steps in this direction.”
The government has established a fund to support rapid community and health social service responses, which is being available immediately.
“The Acute Drug Harm Response Discretionary Fund, is a welcome injection of cash into the sector, services are already stretched and additional funding to support the community in responding to acute issues is welcome”.
“Reducing drug harms is about more than additional treatment services, it is about community support, addressing poverty, housing, employment and wider social and economic reforms.”
The NZNEP and over 30 health and social organisations recently sent an open letter to the Prime Minister urging her to take a health approach to illicit drugs:
Members of the public who also support this cause are invited to sign the “Fund health services not handcuffs” petition on Action Station:
Executive Director, NZNEP
Communications & Events Manager, NZNEP
022 372 5693