NOFFS SAYS THE NSW DRUG SUMMIT SAVED LIVES – IT’S TIME FOR A SECOND ONE
THE 1999 SUMMIT PRODUCED A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN POLICY – LET’S DO IT AGAINAll Media Room
Matt Noffs, CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation, recalls that in 1999, the NSW premier, Bob Carr was faced with an unprecedented number of heroin overdoses and streets full of discarded needles.
This was the catalyst for the calling of the first ever NSW drug summit.
Speaking in 2014, Carr was unequivocal about its success: ‘it saved lives, it got people off their addictions an it better managed them while they were still drug dependent.’
Noffs points out that the summit prioritised treatment over punishment, particularly for young people. It highlighted the inadequacy of the criminal justice system in addressing the complex nature of addiction, and furthered the principle of harm reduction with policies such as diversion programs and accessible rehabilitation facilities alongside the new Kings Cross injecting facility.
He concludes that, ‘The 1999 summit resulted in a fundamental shift in the way we deal with drug use. Thanks to its achievements, countless lives have been saved. A drug summit might not sound sexy but it packs a hell of an evidence-based punch.’
‘The 1999 summit furthered the principle of harm reduction with policies such as the new Kings Cross injecting facility.’ Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP