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St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst

St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, is a world-class public teaching hospital founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1857. St Vincent’s was founded on the principles of compassion, care and respect for all people and these ethical tenets are still the driving force behind its philosophy and methodology.

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Most of the world continues with a criminal justice approach to drug use despite ample evidence of its harmfulness. Jason Verwey/Flickr

What works best in the war on drugs

In 1967, the Beatles took out a full-page advertisement in The Times describing Britain’s marijuana laws as “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice”. Almost half a century later, both past and…
A growing number of countries allow the use of cannabis for medical reasons while prohibiting recreational use. Mark/Flickr (resized)

Australia has no reason to disallow medical cannabis use

International acceptance of medicinal cannabis is growing because it can provide relief for people who can’t be sufficiently helped with current pharmaceutical drugs. But despite growing evidence of its…
Existing evidence for distributing naloxone to prevent overdose deaths is weak. intropin/Flickr

Should naloxone be used to reduce opioid overdoses?

It’s now almost two years since ACT chief minister and minister for health, Katy Gallagher, launched Australia’s first program to distribute naloxone to prevent heroin overdoses. Other states have followed…
There is a large amount of rigorous research evidence for medical marijuana. Rusty Blazenhoff

Legalising medicinal cannabis is a leap forward for compassion

A NSW Parliamentary Committee has recommended legalising the use of medical use of marijuana for people with terminal conditions. This is an approach that should be embraced nationally. For some years…
Despite the billions of dollars spent on the ‘war on drugs’, a 2012 survey reported that most respondents find cannabis easy to obtain. Periódico El Ciudadano

Get smarter about illicit drugs to help balance the budget

A sudden reduction in corporate profits has blown a $12 billion hole in the federal budget. This development should spark a debate within and outside government about how we deal with illicit drugs in…
Alcohol control is not an area for win-win policies and lately, the community has been losing heavily. Carsten Nielsen

Three cheers for the possibility of sensible alcohol policy

Many Australians believe that there isn’t much we can do about our dangerous levels of alcohol consumption. But the real difficulty is that we don’t know how to get effective prevention policies through…
Most overdose deaths are due to heroin but an increasing number are due to pain relieving prescription opioid drugs. Thomas Marthinsen

How to reduce opioid overdose deaths in Australia

Once again, overdose deaths from opioids are increasing in Australia. And once again, we are in danger of ignoring effective, evidence-based interventions. According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research…
It’s difficult to explain why up to three million Australians are better off purchasing cannabis from criminals rather than regulated sources. Chuck Grimmett

Drug prohibition: moving to Plan B

Australia21, of which I am one of the directors, released its second report on drug prohibition on this morning. The report calls for a redefinition of how we deal with drugs to primarily a health and…
Katy Gallagher and the ACT government have acted in the best interests of the community. AAP/Alan Porritt

Conviction politics: needle exchange established in ACT prison

The announcement yesterday by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher to establish a needle exchange in the ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Prison is historic. Politicians need votes like the rest of us need oxygen…
Circumcising boys in the neonatal period using local anaesthesia maximises benefits and safety. TheGiantVermin/Flickr

Male circumcision policy ignores research showing benefits

For some time now, all the departments of health in Australia have based their policy on male circumcision on reviews of the scientific literature carried out periodically by the Royal Australasian College…
The proportion of Australians who support methadone treatment has increased in recent years – it was 69% in 2010. myxabyxe

A snapshot of methadone and buprenorphine treatment in Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released its annual report of the methadone and buprenorphine treatment programs operated by the states and territories today. On census day – June…
One of 13 children arrested in Sydney for being unsupervised and under the influence of drugs. AAP

Time for Plan B in the war on drugs

Most of the avalanche of publicity around Australia 21’s launch of their report on drugs was quite favourable. The report called for vigorous community debate but was careful to avoid recommending any…
A detective displays seized methamphetamine and cash from a raid in February 2012 that involved an international drug ring. AAP image/Cortlan Bennett

The War on Drugs has failed – now what?

It’s official – the so-called War on Drugs has failed. A report released by thinktank Australia21 in parliament today makes it clear that not only has it failed miserably, but that political elites around…
Knowing the dose of the tablet means overdoses are less common than with heroin. d ab d z/Flickr

What Australia should do about prescription opioid misuse

Consumption of slow-release prescription opioids has been increasing in Australia for about two decades. Now, the federal government has said it will set up a new $5 million national electronic records…
People who commit serious crime are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. f o/Flickr

When freedom is fatal: the preventable deaths of recently released prisoners

A study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia concludes that more prison inmates in Australia die in the year after they’ve been released than the annual number of deaths in custody. A disproportionate…

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