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5 Jun. 2024

Australian governments spend more on law enforcement in illicit drug policy than treatment, prevention and harm reduction combined

Australian governments spend more on law enforcement in illicit drug policy than treatment, prevention and harm reduction combined, says a UNSW Sydney report.

The findings published today reveal that state and federal governments spent approximately $5.45 billion in the 2021/2022 financial year on illicit drug countermeasures. Nearly 65 per cent ($3.5 billion) was spent on law enforcement programs, including $1.8 billion on routine policing against drugs. Less than 2 per cent ($90 million) was spent on harm reduction measures such as needle syringe programs and supervised injecting facilities.

“Governments do invest a significant amount of money on proactive drug policy, and where they spend that money shows what they consider as important in responding to drugs,” says Professor Alison Ritter AO, the report’s lead author and drug policy specialist at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture. “This research provides the foundation for evaluating the investment and whether Australia is on the right path to reducing drug-related harm.”

Files from UNSW Sydney Newsroom