Melbourne, VIC, 26th March 2013 – UnitingCare ReGen, the lead alcohol and other drug treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania, today urged members of the Sunbury community to avoid the type of kneejerk response to a recent needlestick injury as that demonstrated by local councillor Jack Medcraft (The Sunbury Leader, ‘Needlestick outrage’, 26th March).
The following is the second letter to The Age submitted by ReGen in response to the paper's coverage of Global Drug Survey's Australian findings.
Persistence of stigmatising language
March 19, 2013
Today’s editorial (‘A nation in denial on drugs’, March 19th) provides a good example of both the progress that has been made in promoting evidence based discussion of alcohol and other drug use in Australia and just how far we still have to go.
It drew clear attention to the disconnect between the reality of use for a wide range of people beyond the usual stereotypes. However, even after recognising the ‘pejorative meanings’ associated with terms like ‘addict’ and ‘alcoholic’ it continued to use those same terms.
Seeking to expand their definition by preceding them with ‘functional’ does nothing to ameliorate the stigmatisation of the people to whom they are usually applied.
While we commend The Age’s willingness to seriously engage in discussion of the harms resulting from alcohol and other drug use, we challenge it (and all mainstream media) to reconsider its use of stigmatising language. Simplistic labels are convenient (especially for sub editors), but oversimplifying what are complex issues can cause lasting damage.
We have seen how public discussion of mental health has matured in recent years (although there is still work to be done there). It would be wonderful if we could achieve the same in relation to alcohol and other drug use.
CEO, UnitingCare ReGen
ReGen submitted the following letter to the editor of The Age in response to the paper's coverage of Global Drug Survey's Australian findings:
March 18, 2013
Drug survey findings raise important issues
The Age’s weekend coverage of Australian findings from the Global Drug Survey (‘The hidden problem of middle-class drinking’, March 16; ‘Death toll rises as prescription drug abuse grows’, March 17) has effectively highlighted that damage caused by alcohol and other drug use is experienced widely throughout our communities, not just amongst the stigmatised and stereotyped few.
The findings (and accompanying media coverage) raise awareness of the risks associated with a wide range of individual behaviours and community attitudes towards the use of alcohol, prescription medications and illicit drugs.
One of the key benefits of the Global Drug Survey results is their capacity to support a more robust debate about the true impacts of substance use. In combination with the Drinks Meter & Drugs Meter services, they provide an accessible online approach, for individuals to compare their use with that of their peers, identify potential harms and provide an effective catalyst for changes to people’s behaviour.
ReGen encourages all Victorians to consider the harms resulting from their own (or loved ones’) use and, if they want to make changes, to seek assistance from one of the many free services available.
CEO, UnitingCare ReGen
Melbourne, VIC, 28th February 2013 – UnitingCare ReGen, the lead alcohol and other drug treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania, today questioned the likely effectiveness of the Victorian Government’s announced plans to dramatically increase penalties for drink and drug-driving offences (ABC News, Big new fines for drug and drink drivers, 28th February).
Melbourne, VIC, 5th February 2013 – UnitingCare ReGen (formerly Moreland Hall), the lead alcohol and other drug treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania, today acknowledged the increased presence of Victoria police at Melbourne music events (‘Almost 40 drug arrests at Above & Beyond music event at Hisense Arena’, Herald Sun, February 3rd).