In Oceania, drug production, trafficking and consumption remain overwhelmingly a criminal justice issue. However, Australia and New Zealand have moved towards policies that prioritise health to respond to drug use. More recently, New Zealand made the headlines with the adoption of an innovative policy towards new psychoactive substances.
The HNZ apologised to the thousands of people it evicted, and said it was “dismayed at the scale of the human impact of the zero-tolerance policy” and was working to be a more compassionate organisation.
After a trial run at an Australian music festival was found to be successful, Australian government officials are be called upon to implement a federal program on pill testing in order to provide better harm reduction services.
Manuel Cardoso, a global health expert who helped Portugal implement its current drug policy model, advises Australia to decriminalise drugs in an effort by the Government to treat drug use as a public health matter rather than a failing criminal justice effort.
The need for policy reform, attitudinal and cultural shifts and development of stronger cross-sectoral partnerships is highlighted, to ensure a rational and logical approach that genuinely tackles drug policy-making and strategy from a broad public health perspective.