Australia's National Drug Strategy beyond 2009: consultation paper
A consistent approach
The recent evaluation of the National Drug Strategy: Australia's Integrated Framework 2004-2009 noted that one of its greatest strengths has been to maintain a consistent approach over an extended period of time. That consistent approach has been underpinned by consensus agreement since 1985 on the principle of harm minimisation expressed as a combination of supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction approaches. This covers licit and illicit drugs and includes a focus on prevention. At a practical level, the three pillars of supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction have brought together a diverse range of stakeholders in the national effort to address drug use.
Notwithstanding some calls for review of the terminology, the harm minimisation approach continues to be relevant today and is increasingly accepted internationally as a humane and pragmatic approach to drug issues. It allows legal, social and health approaches to be brought together in a coordinated and coherent way.