David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: Drug abuse is more widely acknowledged as having complex causes and needing more complex responses that only ever increasingly punitive law-and-order responses, with the real achievement being that drug abuse and the harm it causes is reduced in our community.

TARGET DATE: Ongoing, due to the need to maintain education and action about drug abuse PROGRESS: Ongoing.

DESCRIPTION: The City promotes a harm reduction approach to drug abuse, and recognises addiction and abuse as having complex causes and needing more complex responses that only ever increasingly punitive law-and-order responses, with the real achievement being that drug abuse and the harm it causes is reduced in our community.

The progress made during my time as Chair of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee is detailed below.

As Chairperson of the Environment. Community and Cultural Development committee, I steered the development of the Melbourne City Council Drugs Action Plan 2001-2003. It reflects many of the emphasises I believe in, and omits some the committee as a whole didn't support. The description below is taken from the Drugs Action Plan page of the City of Melbourne website. It explains the work done by council well.

The City of Melbourne has been a leader in responding to the drug issue since 1997 when it first developed a 'Drugs Action Plan for Melbourne'. Since this time, the nature and extent of the drug problem has changed significantly throughout Melbourne, and indeed Australia. In response, the City of Melbourne developed a new strategy through extensive research and community consultation.

This strategy, Drugs Action Plan 2001-2003, aims to reduce the harm of illegal drugs for four key groups:
* Families, residents and community
* Business
* People who use drugs
* Workers, students, visitors and tourists

The development of this website is just one of the initiatives of the Drugs Action Plan and aims to provide up-to-date information and resources for all groups who have an interest in drug-related issues in the city.

FREE – ‘Alcohol & Other Drugs' Information Booklet

A free copy of the Alcohol and Other Drugs…almost everything you need to know information booklet is available through the City of Melbourne Hotline on 9658 9658.

The booklet, targeting tertiary students, provides factual information about alcohol and other drugs. It has been developed by the City of Melbourne in partnership with Victoria University as an initiative of the City of Melbourne Drugs Action Plan, 2001-2003.

One of the key objectives of the Drugs Action Plan is to reduce drug-related harm for students in the municipality, and in particular to "facilitate the development of drug awareness material for tertiary students".

The booklets are being distributed to tertiary educational institutions as well as drug treatment services in the municipality. An electronic version of the booklet can also be downloaded here: Alcohol & Other Drugs (1047 kb) [Sorry. This is not available at the moment due to technical problems].  

City of Melbourne research and information published while I was Chair of the Committee responsible for drug issues in the City are listed below. They provide good information and practical ideas on drug issues from a number of different perspectives.

Alcohol and Other Drugs – almost everything you needed to know! (1047 kb) - Information booklet for Victoria University tertiary students [Sorry. This is not available at the moment due to technical problems].  

Business Responding to Illegal Drugs (1.5 Mb) - 'BRID' Handbook for businesses [This is available from the City of Melbourne website at www.melbourne.vic.gov.au].  

Drugs Action Plan 2001-2003 (660 kb) - City of Melbourne’s Strategy document

Drug Services Card (62 kb) - Information about health, counselling, withdrawal and other support services

Needs & Impact (478 kb) - The Injecting Drug Use Needs and Impact Study 1999

'Out in the City' (513 kb) - For young people of a Vietnamese background

Syringe Management Plan (99 kb)

Toilet Management (565 kb) - Strategy & design guidelines.

While I was Chair of the Committee, Melbourne increased its practical commitment to the drugs program, as detailed in this media release of February 20th 2001

Extra Resources for Melbourne's Drugs Program

The number of outreach workers operating in the City of Melbourne will increase significantly over the coming weeks as part of several Council initiatives designed to respond to the city's drug problem. Chairman of Council's Community and Cultural Development Committee, Cr David Risstrom said the increase in those dealing directly with drug issues is aimed at helping people who use heroin and reduce the number dying. These initiatives, developed in consultation with the Council and the State Government, have received $380,000 of State money and are the first phase in the development of long-term drug safety services within the City of Melbourne. This money is on top of the Council's annual budget of $200,000 earmarked for drug issues. Council's initial emphasis will be on those areas faced with immediate drug issues, including a focus on the increased drug activity in Kensington. "We have been actively working with the Kensington community on these issues and as a result specific funds have been allocated for additional services including: increased needle and syringe pickups; a community development worker; and a drug safety services position." "Council believes that these initiatives will provide a comprehensive and integrated service," Cr Risstrom said. These initiatives are part of the Council's Drugs Action Plan 2001-2003, which was today endorsed by the Minister for Health, Hon. John Thwaites. It is available from the City of Melbourne offices and on the Council's website at www.melbourne.vic.gov.au. The plan contains strategies to reduce the impact and harm caused by drugs for: Families, residents and community Businesses Those who use drugs Workers,students, visitors and tourists. "The Plan is also strongly committed to working with the community to advance prevention and early intervention strategies targeting young people," Cr Risstrom said. "Council's Drug Action Plan is an example of a true partnership between the State Government and local councils," Cr Risstrom said.

The newly elected Council has transferred responsibility for drug issues to the Lord Mayor Drugs and Safety Committee, which meets on an ad hoc basis. The Committee is chaired by Cr. Anthony Nicholson, while I am Deputy Chair. I am not aware of specific policy initiatives having come out of the Committee since its inception, but will endeavour to update this website when I become aware of material of value to post.

FURTHER INFORMATION: A number of Melbourne City Council staff were integral to the quality of the work detailed above. They include Julie Rolfe, Clare Malone, Heather Scovell, Denise Shearer, Phillipa Major and some anonymous others.

MEDIA: A short article I wrote for Melbourne News during the public consultation in December 1999 is attached: December 99 Melbourne News Article.


Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

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