A pre-eminent group of health and social service providers are calling for all Australian governments to decriminalise drug use and to treat it primarily as a health and social issue.
The group, comprising doctors, academics, sociologists, criminologists and social service providers want to see drug laws reformed to remove penalties and jail time for people caught with drugs for personal use.
The group held a roundtable in Melbourne on Wednesday and say the current system of punishing drug addicts with prison time without treating the problem has created a cycle of social ills, including poverty, social disadvantage, unemployment, homelessness, family violence, child protection interventions, mental illness and suicide.
Among the signatories to the joint statement on Monday are Kasy Chambers CEO, Anglicare Australia, Matt Noffs CEO, Noffs Foundation - Australia's largest drug and alcohol treatment service provider for young people under 25 - and Emeritus Professor David Penington AC, former Dean of Medicine and Vice Chancellor, University of Melbourne and former chair of the Victorian premier's Drug Advisory Council.
The national roundtable was held in Victoria's Parliament House, where the state's report on the Parliamentary Drug Law Reform Inquiry is due to be delivered on Tuesday 27 March.