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Is lawful discrimination against illicit drug users acceptable?

Wodak AD, Lynch PA, Crofts N

  • Journal The Medical journal of Australia

  • Published 02 Jul 2004

  • Volume 180

  • ISSUE 8

  • Pagination 405-7


A Bill currently being considered by the Australian Parliament (the Disability Discrimination Amendment Bill 2003 [Cwlth]) would, if enacted, make discrimination lawful against people who are currently addicted to prohibited drugs and not currently in drug treatment. The government argues that the Bill is needed to keep the work and social environment safe, respond to community concerns, provide certainty to individuals and organisations, and force drug users into treatment. If enacted, we believe the Bill will infringe several national commitments to human rights, damage the wellbeing of family and other associates, and generate expensive litigation because of the difficulty of proving current addiction and current drug treatment; risk deterring drug users from seeking drug treatment and impair their ability to obtain employment and accommodation; represent a further attempt to reduce drug use by increasing the health, social and other costs of using illegal drugs, rather than assisting drug users to deal with their problem through health and social interventions that are less expensive, more effective and less counterproductive.