Doctors Say Yes To “Zero Tolerance” Approach – 3 November 1997

The Australian Doctors’ Fund has today welcomed the recent announcement by the Prime Minister to fund an integrated attack on Australia’s growing drug menace.

Dr Bruce Shepherd, Chairman of the Australian Doctors’ Fund said “what is most pleasing in the announcement so far is the commitment to a zero tolerance education program for young people”.

“It is also pleasing to see that the zero tolerance education campaign has been integrated with increased law enforcement and rehabilitation strategies rather than an ad hoc approach”.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement is a clear departure from the harm minimisation soft approach that has been the Federal Government’s direction up till now”.

“Mr Howard has clearly put his leadership stamp on the Government’s handling of this issue. He has shown that he has a strong intellectual grip on the policy responses required to deal with Australia’s growing drug, in particular heroin, problem”.

“The overwhelming majority of Australian parents want their children to grow up drug free and reach their full potential”, Dr Shepherd said.

“The Australian Doctors’ Fund has always argued that public policy be directed at best to assisting parents achieve this goal and at worst not hindering them by promoting harm minimisation strategies that send conflicting signals to young people and society in general”.

“In 1989 we held our first conference entitled ‘Drugs, the Law and Medicine’, which called for the sort of approach that the Prime Minister has recently announced”.

“It has been 8 years in coming but better late than never”, Dr Shepherd said.