Global Expert Calls for Drug Decriminalisation in Australia 8 June 2018

The use and abuse of alcohol and drugs in New South Wales is an endemic problem which is increasing the rate of recidivism in this state. In NSW, using and possessing drugs is a criminal offence carrying a gaol sentence. Approximately half of NSW prisoners attribute their current sentences to alcohol and/or drugs.1 

Drug use is a significant contributing factor to women’s imprisonment in Australia. More women than men reported previous or current injecting drug use, with 56% compared to 42% respectively.2  Offenders who complete a drug diversion program are less likely to reoffend. 

It is imperative that the NSW Government consider seriously how their drug law policies are punishing the less fortunate and creating a downward spiral of recidivism. Decriminalisation is a viable option. After the Portugal model, this would involve the decriminationalisation of the use and possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.

Drug Law Reform
Women’s Imprisonment
Key case: Tracy Brannigan

[1] Antonette Gaffney and Jason Payne, ‘How much crime is drug or alcohol related? Self-reported attributions of police detainees’ (Report No. 439, Australian Institute of Criminology, May 2012) 1.

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘The Health of Australia’s Prisoners 2012’ (2013) 78.


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