We are pleased to announce that Students for Sensible Drug Policy Australia’s first national conference, ‘Challenging The Narratives Of Prohibition’ will be held at Melbourne University this August. Held over the 12th and 13th of August, the conference will showcase some of the brightest minds and dedicated activists in drug law reform. This will be our first opportunity to bring together students, alumni and allies of drug law reform for a weekend of inspiration, learning and helping to set the future direction of SSDP and drug policy activism in Australia.
Please click here for tickets to #SSDPC17.
Within 18 months of inception, SSDP Australia has become the natural hub for student activism on drug policy around Australia with five registered university clubs, more on the way and an international network of experts, allies and mentors. Working with our student members and allies, SSDP has hosted, presented at and supported many events, and are helping to change the conversation around drug use at campuses around the country. Students at seven different universities had tables at Orientation Week providing information on drugs and drug use, overdose prevention, harm reduction and policy reform. With representatives from many universities and several states, we hope this conference will be the place where new leaders emerge to take SSDP to the next stage.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference 2017 (#SSDPC17) Challenging Narratives of the Drug War will feature a range of experts covering: drug policy, human rights, pill testing, harm reduction and grassroots campaigning, substance use and addiction treatment. Our student members will also be presenting and Sunday morning will feature some presenting on a panel on ‘Youth and Substance Use’ hosted by RMIT Lecturer and author of, ‘Youth and Substance Abuse,’ Dr Kathryn Daley. The context in which drug use is often discussed presents a simple picture where people are offered a choice to think of drug users as either “bad” or “sick”. These speakers will break apart these narratives and paint a much more complex picture of the various experiences with substance use.
Drug checking, also known as “pill testing’ was highlighted as a core priority for our members at our strategic planning day at the start of the year. We are about to launch a new campaign in Victoria and have already started collecting signatures to table a petition in parliament. The Melbourne Uni chapter have been hard at work for over a year on a pilot program to roll out a reagent kit distribution program with the student union in the coming months. Chapter President, Nick Kent will be hosting a panel on pill testing, featuring Dr Will Tregoning, founder of Unharm, Adriana Buccianti who teamed up with Unharm to help campaign for pill testing after her son passed away at a music festival, and Stephanie Tzanetis, Program Coordinator at Victoria’s ‘Dancewize’ program.
Human rights are key to the issue of how we relate to drug use in society. Australia’s leading voice on drug law reform, Dr. Alex Wodak will be speaking on a panel with Dr. Kate Seear, a Senior Lecturer in Law at Monash University and Dr. James Rowe, Social Science Lecturer and Researcher from RMIT. Large policy change is a political problem though and the final panel on Saturday will feature representatives from a range of different political parties that have pro-reform policies. We encourage participation in politics as a key part of being involved in drug policy and our guests can provide insight into how that can be achieved.
Sunday afternoon is jam packed full of advice from some of the leading grassroots campaigners on how to structure a powerful campaign that changes minds and policies. The Enpsychedelia radio show will be live broadcasting a panel on activism and advocacy featuring Matt Riley from Melbourne’s Free Cannabis Community, Nevena Spirovska from the High Alert and Welfair Campaigns, Greg from the Victoria Street Drug Solutions group and Dr. Will Tregoning from Unharm. The Sunday afternoon will finish off with Will running a workshop on creating a campaign so that we can turn everything we’ve learned into action.
Our goal has been to bring together students and empower their representation in a discussion that is far too often patronising and steeped in the myths and prejudice of historical injustice. The first national SSDP conference will bring together a diverse group of people to challenge these outdated narratives. Please help support our work by buying a ticket, spreading the word or donating some much needed funds.