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SSDP Inaugural Conference

August 11, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - August 13, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

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About the Conference

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.

Launch Party

Saturday 12th August

10:15 am – 10:30 am
Speaker Ash Blackwell (SSDP Australia)
SSDP Australia acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of the land on which our activities take place. We pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.

10:30 am  – 12:00 pm
Speakers Dr. Kate Seear (Monash University) Dr. Alex Wodak (Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation) Dr. James Rowe (RMIT)
The 21st century has seen an increased focus on human rights and ending discrimination.  Internationally there has been an increasing focus on using human rights laws and obligations to challenge the most discriminatory and damaging aspects of drug policy.  Between them, our panelists bring perspectives from varied disciplines, and will discuss the human rights implications of drug policy in the areas of law, politics, society and health.

10:30 am  – 12:00 pm
Speaker Dr. John Sherman
Addiction is at the core of a lot of drug policy issues with it driving concerns about the harms of drug use and the risks of reform. Addiction is used as a justification for discouraging any and all drug use and often as a dehumanising label to further marginalise people. But was is addiction? What does it mean to be addicted to something and how does that happen? What are the different options for treatment, recovery and management of drug addiction and how well do they work? Dr John Sherman has had an extensive career working in addiction treatment and recently authored a book, “Drug Addiction in Australia” detailing the history of drug addiction and treatment in Australia through the lense of clients, families, clinicians law enforcement and more.

1:30pm – 2:00 pm
Speakers Nick Wallis (Enpsychedelia) Ash Blackwell (SSDP Australia)
Do you want to learn how to be an effective communicator? Public speaking skills are extremely valuable for creating social change, and integral to drug-reform activism. Hosts of weekly 3CR radio show Enpsychedelia  Ash and Nick will cover public speaking, how to engage with the media and effectively communicate your message.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Speakers Nick Kent (SSDP University of Melbourne) Adriana Buccianti (Change.org and testsnotarrests campaign spokesperson) Dr. Will Tregoning (Unharm) Stephanie Tzanetis  (Dancewize)
Experts throughout Australia have warned that more deaths are expected if urgent action is not undertaken to implement dynamic and progressive drug strategies, such as Drug Checking, otherwise known as Pill Testing. Adulterants and new psychoactive substances have contributed to an increase in the number of medical emergencies and drug overdose deaths in recent years. Our expert panel will cover will explore recent campaigns, developments overseas and what is being done in Australia.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Speakers Colleen Hartland (Australian Greens) Fiona Patten (Sex Party) Gabe Buckley (Liberal Democratic Party) Margarita Windisch (Socialist Alliance) Greg Chipp (Drug Law Reform Australia Party)
To achieve real and meaningful drug law reform requires actions from our politicians to change laws, policies and funding priorities. Many politicians that privately support progressive drug policies won’t admit so publicly due to the controversial nature of the issue. Our political panel brings together a range of representatives from different parties and perspectives that share a commitment to drug law reform.  Come and learn about effective strategies for political activism. 

Sunday 13th August

10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Speakers Phoebe Logan (SSDP RMIT) Tara Schultz (SSDP Federation University) Hunter Morgan (Harm Reduction Victoria) Khya Whiteside (SSDP Homesglen Tafe) Dr. Kat Daley (RMIT)
One of Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s driving principles is to engage and mobilise young people. As young people, we need to be collectively pushing for better policies; we need to be the voice for change. Regardless of age, this process involves YOU: it is important to give young people space in drug reform conversation, and the first step involves listening to their experiences, concerns, and ideas about drug related policies. Australia’s conservative drug policies disproportionately effect our youth. This needs to change, but it won’t if young peoples’ voices continue to be stifled. Get involved! Come and hear the stories of fellow SSDP members, your peers!

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Speakers Dr. Atilla Danko (New Nicotine Alliance Australia) Stephanie Tzanetis (Dancewize) Annie Madden (Harm Reduction Australia) Dr. Monica Barratt (National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)
As one of the three core pillars of our national drug strategy ‘harm reduction’ refers to a non- judgemental approach to substance use which looks to address the adverse health, economic and social risks associated with legal and illegal drug use without necessarily reducing drug consumption. Our expert panel will discuss the history of harm reduction in Australia, how it plays out in different communities, in cyberspace, public policy and in alternatives to smoking.

2:00 pm –  3:00 pm
ADVOCACY PANEL (Live Broadcast on 3CR)
Speakers Nevena Spirovska (High Alert) Matt Riley (Free Cannabis Community) Dr. Will Tregoning (Unharm) Greg Hordacre (Victoria Street Drug Solutions) Greg Denham (Yarra Drug and Health Forum)
Talking about drug policy and exploring the different issues can be fun and interesting but what about actually getting meaningful change enacted? Campaigning, networking, communication and developing groups of dedicated activists and advocates is critical to shifting both the discussion and policies and laws around drug use.   Our expert panel of advocates and activists will discuss the way that their organisations have campaigned for change, what strategies have worked best and how you can get involved in small or large ways. This panel will be live broadcast on the Enpsychedelia radio show from 3CR.org.au and on 855am from 2pm.

3:30 pm –  5:00 pm
Speaker Dr. Will Tregoning (Unharm)
After a busy conference, and an exciting range of workshops and panels, you might be feeling super excited, and want to know about what it is exactly that YOU can do to add to the drug reform movement! At our campaign creation workshop we will arm you with some of the skills and expertise necessary in creating a successful campaign. If you’re interested in creating a campaign, or curious in what makes a campaign successful, we welcome you to join us.



August 11, 2017 @ 7:00 pm
August 13, 2017 @ 5:00 pm
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SSDP Australia


University of Melbourne, Sidney Myer Asia Centre
158/761 Swanston St
Parkville, Victoria Australia
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