Back to top
The Wellington Declaration was the collective wisdom of 67 organisations, alongside people who use drugs, affected family and whānau, Māori and Pacific people, young people, educators, health professionals and community advocates. The Drug Foundation convened the group over two days in 2013 to collaboratively develop a document to contribute to the refresh of the National Drug Policy.
The Declaration was developed through a consensus process with a strong emphasis on evidence-based solutions and finding common ground on important issues. It prioritised rebalancing the three pillars of New Zealand’s drug policy - demand reduction, harm reduction and supply control - towards a health and social approach. The people at the summit committed themselves to working together, and with the government, to tackle New Zealand’s drug issues; advocating for humane, just and effective responses to reduce drug-related harm.
The Declaration has four key planks:
The signatories to the Declaration agreed that the primary goal of our national drug policy should be the reduction of drug-related harm. They agreed this would be best achieved by approaching drug use and harm as a health and social issue, and that this requires legislative change.
A health-focused approach should promote and protect the health and well-being of everyone, and be responsive to the particular needs of individuals, families/whānau and communities. It should address drug use and harm within its social, cultural and economic context; including inequality and social exclusion. Essential to this is developing a culture that encourages recovery and eliminates stigma.
The signatories called for the outdated Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to be replaced in line with the 2011 Law Commission Report. This includes replacing criminal charges for possession or social supply of an illegal drug with a cautioning scheme; classifying drugs based on risk of harm; and removing barriers to extending harm reduction.
Signatories to the Wellington Declaration agreed that prevention and early intervention is effective in minimising future harm. Drug harm minimisation activities should be restorative rather than punitive, and it should be a priority to keep young people in school. Drug harm minimisation resources should be developed to support consistent teaching of a nation-wide school curriculum, based on best practice and evidence-based programmes. Support for educators and relevant personnel should be established to ensure staff have appropriate skills and assistance to identify and work with people who use drugs.
Prevention efforts should extend beyond schools and should include funding community activities and action. Groups with high risk of drug related harm should be prioritised for these efforts.
The monitoring and reporting of prescription drugs should be significantly improved, to minimise the potential for their misuse. This includes improving systems around the disposal of medications.
Harm reduction includes a range of interventions and these should be extended beyond what is currently available. The Needle Exchange Programme services should be scaled up nationally, increasing the availability of equipment and accessibility of outlets/services.
Programmes for non-intravenous drug use should be investigated and provided, including drug checking and the provision of information around safer consumption techniques. The Declaration also noted that the criminalisation of drugs and public attitudes to people who use drugs are barriers to the provision and extension of effective harm reduction services.
The Declaration promotes the understanding that recovery is a process, not a single event, and may take time to achieve and effort to maintain. It was agreed that a destigmatisation campaign is necessary to reduce negative public assumptions about people who use, or who are in recovery.
A population health-based programme of screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment should be implemented in primary care and other appropriate settings (e.g. mental health settings), and adequate funding and resources should be allocated to sustain these services.
Download the full Wellington Declaration