UMSU Welfare is very proud to deliver an innovative peer-based program supporting diverse members of the student community by holding workshops on harm reduction strategies for people who use, or are considering the use of, currently illegal drugs.
In 2016, UMSU Students’ Council passed a resolution supporting the administration of colorimetric reagent drug-checking kits in conjunction with up-to-date harm reduction training and education for students. At the time, the Safer Partying Initiative (SPI) program was the first in Australia’s history to approve the dissemination of reagent kits on the part of a student union. Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Australia and their affiliated UMSU Club on campus originally lobbied for better availability of harm reduction services in the lead up to the 2016 Council resolution.
The SPI provides students with access to nonjudgmental, evidence-based information to encourage safer drug-using practices and builds linkages with external organisations. Additional benefits of the SPI include:
- A safe space for students to have an honest conversation about health issues and their friends’ health
- A pathways towards advocating for government policies that align with the principles of harm reduction
- An opportunity for students to overcome the fear of seeking help when a lot of stigma and discrimination exists in association with illegal drug use
UMSU neither condemns nor condones substance use. It is informed by evidence and recognises that while abstinence may be the best form of harm reduction, many continue to use drugs without wanting to immediately abstain.