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Publicus Consilium

Deakin Public Policy Review 2018

Publicus Consilium 2018 Cover01.indd 1 4/02/2019 10:05:29 AM


Published by Deakin University

School of Humanities and Social Sciences
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood Victoria 3125

ISSN 1839-2911

Deakin University CRICOS Provider Code 00113B


Unit Chair Introduction
It is my great pleasure to introduce this seventh edition of Publicus Consilium: Deakin Public
Policy Review. This edition contains 15 of the best policy analyses produced by Deakin
University students for the unit AIP230 Understanding Public Policy, taught in Trimester One

This edition of the Review includes contributions from students enrolled at Burwood and
Geelong Campuses, as well as students studying online from across Australia and the world.
These pieces were produced for the students’ final assessment task for the unit, in which
students undertake an analysis of a policy area in which they have a particular personal
interest. Subsequently, each piece of work is self-directed research that reflects students’
own passions and investment. At the end of the trimester students submit their pieces to
the Editorial Board – consisting of their peers – who select the pieces to be included. The
Editorial Board does not know the mark each piece received from the assessor, so these
choices are based on readability, rigor, and interest.

This year the Review includes several essays on drug harm minimisation; privacy; abortion;
macro-economic policies; and the persistence of religious discrimination and racism in
Australian society. Choosing a more unexpected topic, Nick York has contributed a
fascinating analysis on the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation to reduce dog attacks. I
am particularly delighted that this year the Review includes a policy analysis from Jo James,
a student enrolled in the unit through Deakin’s Institute for Koori Education. In her powerful
essay, Jo has conducted an analysis of the unexamined assumptions embedded in Aboriginal
family violence policies in Tasmania.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the members of the 2018 Editorial Board: Jen
Searle, Josh Cook, Catherine Dent, Darcy White, Tiara Rajesh, Amy Clarke, James Dance and
Lee Stephens. Each volunteered their time and energy to produce this Review.

This collection is designed as an important memento of student achievement. It is also a

teaching tool: to assist future students of AIP230 to understand how to conduct a policy
analysis and to write their own.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Dr Amy Nethery
Unit Chair, AIP230 Understanding Public Policy
Senior Lecturer in Politics and Policy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Table of Contents
The pursuit for harm minimisation: pill testing in Australia
Adele Jacqueline Claasz………………………………………………………………………………………... 2-9

To what extent do Australia’s privacy laws protect the community?

Catherine Dent……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10-16

Nuclear Energy in Australia: Outdated and Dangerous, a Missed Opportunity, or Viable

Alternative Energy Policy?
Darcy White…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17- 24

What can Australia learn from the ‘Portuguese Model’ of drug legislation?
Dylan Duman……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25-31

The secular state: Is religious discrimination in Victoria still present due to lack-lustre law?
Hannah Mansfield………………………………………………………………………………………………… 32-37

A genealogy of policy making for responding to Aboriginal Family violence in Tasmania

Jo James……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 38-42

To what extent will Medically-Supervised Injecting Centres (MSICs) minimise drug-related

injuries in Victoria?
Josh Ball…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….... 43-51

In pursuit of ‘jobs and economic growth’, is Australia’s 2018-19 budget plan a wise approach
generating growth, prosperity and guaranteeing the security of Australia’s future?
Josh Cook……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 52-63

The past, present and future of Australian and the United States Abortion Laws: A
comparative analysis between Victoria and Mississippi
Lauren Van Der Veen…………………………………………………………………………………………… 64- 72

Does the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children overlook the
needs of the most vulnerable women?
Lois Matthews……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 73- 78

Reducing Harm to Users: Is the Implementation of Pill Testing and Drug Consumption Rooms
Viable as a Part of Australia’s National Drug Policy?
Melissa Veljan……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 79-85

Does Breed-Specific Legislation Effectively Reduce Injuries Caused by Dogs?

Nick York…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 86-92

A comparative analysis between the criminalisation of abortion in Queensland and the

legalisation of Abortion in Victoria.


Nina Caines…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 93-99
To What Extent is Australia Successfully Mitigating Racism through its Racial Vilification
Sam Hoare……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 100-106

The Effectiveness of the Interactive Games Industry’s Inclusion in a Nationwide Technology

Boom: A Comparative Analysis
Tyler Roach……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 107-114

The pursuit for harm minimisation: pill
testing in Australia
Adele Jacqueline Claasz

What features of the political and social climate of Australia has led to the government’s
reluctance to progressively legislate upon recreational pill testing?

The analysis will focus on the general policy area of recreational pill testing in Australia, an
issue that has faced much controversy over the last few years. The use of illicit recreational
drugs at music festivals has become a very popular and dangerous trend since the turn of
the 21st century, leading to an influx of hospitalisations and deaths across the world. Calls
for on-site “pill testing machines”, which can be used to test the purity of recreational drugs
without legal implications, has arisen as a bold, yet plausible approach. The Australian
government has failed to implement such laws regarding the use of MDMA and similar
substances at festivals. This paper examines the representation of recreational drug use in
politics and in media, which is likely driven by misconceptions about risk-taking behaviour
and the representation of a zero-tolerance policy on recreational drugs.

Method of analysis
Bacchi’s (2009) discourse method will be adopted to guide the analysis, to examine the
representation of the problem, the effects of this representation and how it can be thought
about differently. The analysis will aim to understand the unwillingness of political actors in
Australia to legislate progressively upon pill testing and explore the social propensities
within society that have led to the rejection of harm minimisation strategies. The guiding
question is: What features of the political/social climate of Australia has led to the
government’s representation of recreational pill testing and reluctance to progressively
legislate upon this area?

Australia’s National Drug Strategy aims to address drug policy through three pillars: supply
reduction (intervening with dealers), demand reduction (discouraging drug use) and harm
reduction (implementing strategies to reduce risks) (Department of Health 2017). Harm
reduction strategies aim to encourage safer behaviours and reduce preventable risk factors
(Department of Health 2017), yet most government funding is allocated to law enforcement
rather than harm minimisation strategies (Lefkovits 2016). Research shows that not enough
is being done to address the issue of young people using recreational “party” drugs, such as
MDMA or GHB, at scenes such as music festivals, night clubs and music events (Lefkovits

Australian ecstasy pills have been found to be among the most dangerous party drugs in the
world, in a study of almost 27,000 pills, reviewed over 10 years, across 5 countries (Project
Know 2014). An extraordinarily high amount of Australian ecstasy pills contain the


potentially deadly PMA/PMMA ingredient, known colloquially as “Dr Death” (Project Know
2014). In 2015, six Australians died from the consumption of fatal ecstasy at music festivals
(Lefkovits, 2016), and there were more than 20 GHB drug overdoses at the Electric Parade
Music Festival in 2017 (Australian Associated Press 2017).

On-site pill testing machines are a proposed solution to this deadly trend, allowing specific
information about the contents of a pill to be immediately available to users (Lefkovits
2016). Research shows that its potential implementation is promising. An Australian study
showed that 76% of frequent consumers of ecstasy would abstain from consuming a pill if a
test was unable to determine its contents (Barratt et al. 2018). In fact, there is strong
support among Australian partygoers themselves to introduce drug checking services
(Barratt et al. 2018).

In November last year, the “Spilt Milk” festival in Canberra was set to trial pill testing (Triple
J Hack 2017). However, the trial was cancelled, with organisers citing the need for more
documentation, insurance and a legal framework to operate on federal land (Triple J Hack
2017). The pill testers blamed conservative politics, expressing doubts that the
Commonwealth government would have approved the trial on their land (Triple J Hack
2017). However, at the Australian Capital Territory’s (‘ACT’s’) “Groovin the Moo” festival, a
successful pill testing trial was conducted (Murphy et al. 2018). While the experiment was
successful and many harmful drugs were identified and disposed of, there is still ongoing
debate about on-site pill testing (Murphy et al. 2018). So why has on-site pill testing - a
proven effective harm minimisation strategy with such strong support from recreational
drug users – so hard to implement within the sphere of Australian politics? And after such a
successful trial in the ACT, why is there still so much controversy?

Problem Representation
To begin, Bacchi’s (2009) primary question of “what is the problem represented to be” will
be used to examine the issue and its representation. The framing of recreational drug use
has evolved, as reflected through progressive changes in public policy.

Australia has, notoriously and historically, taken a prohibitionist stance against illicit drugs
(Mostyn et al. 2012). Public policy on drugs was centred solely on a system of deterrence,
through the complete criminalisation of drug use and possession (Lefkovits 2016). In 1997,
under Prime Minister John Howard’s leadership, the National Illicit Drug Strategy – Tough on
Drugs Strategy was introduced (Hughes 2009). Campaigns and slogans such as “just say no”,
became frontrunners in addressing the issue; the effectiveness of drug policy was measured
by means of abstinence (Groves 2018). The supply reduction and abstinence-based
treatment led a social culture that criminalised drug users (Hughes 2009).

The reticence of current policy makers to integrate pill testing into modern policy can be
linked to ambivalence; fluctuating representations of drug use in society (Groves 2018).
Groves (2018) found that key politicians have frequently altered discourse of drug policy,
shifting the focus from the cause of drug taking to the effects of drugs on victims and wider
society, focusing on consequence rather than cause. Focusing on the harms of drugs on
society has the effect of ‘otherising’ drug users, excluding them from notions of citizenship
and creating tension between notions of the “self”: a drug user who is generally rational,

and of the “other”: who is cast as dangerous and recluse (Groves 2018: 4). This creates a
rationalisation for the government’s increased use of criminalisation which is centred on the
concept of the “other”, and the collective sense of insecurity it brings to society, rather than
harm minimisation (Groves 2018).

While this problem representation has had a considerable influence on policy makers’
attitudes, leading to a reluctance to legislate upon harm reduction strategies, there has
been successful initiatives trialled that follow the principles of harm minimisation (Groves
2018). These pragmatic strategies, including the introduction of the Medically Supervised
Injecting Centre in Sydney have emerged as a result of a growing awareness that the focus
of the debate must shift towards recognising the social and environmental influences on
behaviour (Groves 2018). In addition to the approved pill testing trial in the ACT, this
movement signifies the recognition that drugs play a significant role in modern society, and
that a new approach is needed to reduce drug-related harms instead of simply criminalising
drug users (Groves 2018). This change in attitude is significant, as the changing
representation of recreational drugs in society may lead to possible pill-testing legislation in
the near future (Groves 2018).

Effects of the problem representation

The representation by the government of drug use or possession being an avoidable,
criminal offence, rather than a consequence of social and environmental influences has had
a number of effects.

In terms of policy, Australia’s zero tolerance position against drugs can be seen as radical,
and by default susceptible to moral opposition, leading to conflicts in partisan politics
(Groves 2018). There are several implications of the fluctuating discourse and surrounding
the criminalisation of drugs. This includes an extremely divided political landscape, wherein
some parties stand firmly by the prohibitionist approach, while others fiercely oppose it
(Groves 2018). To add to this, policy is frequently inconsistent and very vulnerable to
changing public and political interests (Groves 2018).

The prohibitionist policy stance has likely fuelled strongly held opinions from multiple
politicians and policy influencers. New South Wales (NSW) Police Minister, Troy Grant, is a
strong opponent of pill testing, claiming he is “a thousand percent against” recreational pill
testing (Lefevre 2018). The Minister states “we are not using taxpayers’ funds (…) to provide
a quality-assurance model for drug dealers” (Lefevre 2018). In 2016 the Minister even
alleged that pill testing advocates should be charged with manslaughter, and stands by the
traditional, zero tolerance approach, arguing “It’s a false hope (…) the only way to avoid
deaths by taking drugs, is not to take the drug” (Lefevre 2018). The political representation
of drugs as purely a criminal offence has created fierce defenders of the zero-tolerance

Federal Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has also expressed his disapproval of pill testing
strategies. Unlike Grant, Kelly is a supporter of harm minimisation, but expresses his
concern about the message that pill testing sends (Iggulden 2018). Kelly’s uncertainty stems
from his belief that the service will encourage use, as it may confirm the purity of certain


drugs and therefore condone the consumption of illicit substances, yet health risks still exist
(Iggulden 2018).

Australia’s prohibitionist “zero tolerance” stance has also come with widespread health and
societal consequences. These include but are not limited to the spread of preventable
disease, lack of medical supervision for illicit drug use, corruption among law enforcement
and a violent, underground, black-market culture (Mostyn et al. 2012).

How can the problem be thought about differently?

An article by Savulescu, Rochford and D’Hotman, published in The Conversation, titled ‘We
have a moral obligation to allow drug analysis at music festivals’, presents an alternate view,
framing pill testing as a moral burden for wider society. The authors propose that
deterrence-based methods are ineffective, as supported by research, and law enforcement
tactics such as drug dogs may actually increase harm, as festival goers may consume a large
quantity of pills to avoid detection (Savulescu et al. 2016). The authors suggest that pill
testing is not about testing potential users – instead, it is about testing the drugs, helping
users to make more informed decisions about pills that could contain dangerous chemicals
(Savulescu et al. 2016). The authors argue that society and politicians alike have an
obligation to advocate for better harm reduction strategies (Savulescu et al. 2016).
Savulescu, Rochford and D’Hotman (2018) conclude that the preventable harm from
contaminated substances is over-politicised and an ideological position against harm
reduction is counterproductive to public health.

Accordingly, pill testing should be viewed as a safety measure rather than a risk (Murphy et
al. 2018). Pill testing should in no way be thought of as a ‘honey pot’, a form of self-
incrimination trickery for teenagers consuming illicit substances, and instead should be
regarded as an objective form of analysis, run by medical professionals, with the legal
amnesty of safe injecting centres (Murphy et al. 2018).

Pill testing can also be framed in an economical sense. Research by Ritter (2010: 267) argues
that pill-testing can be thought of as a form of “market regulation” which can successfully
act as a form of quality control as well as alter consumer behaviour. When the problem is
“framed as a traditional market regulation strategy”, pill testing can influence the black
market in positive ways, by creating a more transparent system, as well as reduce the
burden of health costs for the government (Ritter 2010: 267). Pill testing is projected to cost
the government one tenth of the cost of drug dogs, but also can function as a privately
funded service (Savulescu et al. 2016).

The harm reduction movement is currently being backed by many politicians, particularly
since the success of the pill-testing trial in the ACT. The strategy has been publicly supported
by Liberal back bencher Warren Entsch, who firmly believes that the service can provide
“valuable data” to festival-goers (Iggulden 2018). Federal back bencher Lisa Singh also is an
outspoken supporter of the service and commented that pill testing at music festivals
“without fear of police” should be an option for teenagers at music festivals (Iggulden

Harm minimisation has also been a part of The Australian Green’s party platform for several
years (Murphy et al. 2018). Currently, The Victorian Greens (2018) has launched a campaign
to legalise pill testing in Victoria. The webpage for the campaign states that lab-grade pill
testing is supported by medical, legal and corrections experts around the country, and that
the time is now to take action (The Victorian Greens 2018). Moreover, The Reason Party
(formerly known as The Australian Sex Party) is a devoted supporter of pill testing (Reason
Victoria 2018). Fiona Patten, leader of The Reason Party states “just say no is a failed
concept…Smart responses are what we need” (Reason Victoria 2018).

Undoubtedly, the incremental legislation of harm reduction is an optimistic step in the
direction towards legalised pill testing. However, Australia still has progress to make for pill
testing to become viable socially and politically as a public policy. Increased publicity,
advocacy for harm reduction and more formal research are all opportunities to extend
conversation beyond perceptions of individual delinquency and towards notions of a
collective moral responsibility by challenging conventional thinking about risk taking
behaviour (Groves 2018).

Australian Associated Press 2017, ‘More than 20 drug overdoses at Melbourne music
festival’, The Guardian, 19 February, retrieved 22 May 2018,

Bacchi, C. L 2009, Analysing policy; what's the problem represented to be?, 1edn, Pearson
Education, University of Adelaide, pp, 1-24.

Barratt, M, Ritter, A, Bruno, R, & Ezard, N 2018, 'Pill testing or drug checking in Australia:
Acceptability of service design features', Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 226-
236, doi: 10.1111/dar.12576

Department of Health 2017, National Drug Strategy 2017 – 2026, Commonwealth of

Australia, retrieved 22 May 2018,

Groves, A 2018, ‘Worth the test?’ Pragmatism, pill testing and drug policy in Australia’,
Harm Reduction Journal, vol. 15, no. 12, pp. 1 – 13, doi: 10.1186/s12954-018-0216-z

Hughes, C. E, 2009, 'Policy analysis: Capitalising upon political opportunities to reform drug
policy: A case study into the development of the Australian “Tough on Drugs-Illicit Drug
Diversion Initiative”', International Journal of Drug Policy, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 431-437, doi:
10.1016/j.drugpo.2008.12.003. [22 May 2018].

Iggulden, T 2018, ‘Pill testing at music festivals will save lives, politicians say after Groovin
the Moo trials’, ABC News, 1 May, retrieved 24 May 2018,



Lefevre, J 2018, ‘Pill Testing Probably Won’t Happen In NSW Any Time Soon Because Of This
Idiot’, Junkee, 3 May, retrieved 24 May 2018, <

Lefkovits, Z. G 2016, A Pill Too Hard to Swallow?, retrieved 24 April 2018,


Mostyn, B, Gibbon, H, & Cowdery, N 2012, 'The criminalisation of drugs and the search for
alternative approaches', Current Issues In Criminal Justice, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 261-272,
Informit Humanities & Social Sciences Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 May 2018.

Murphy, K, Martignoni, M & Izzard, H 2018, ‘What is the future of pill testing in Australia?’,
The Guardian, 20 May, retrieved 22 May 2018, <

Project Know 2014, Jagged Little Pill: Examining the contents of 27,000 ecstasy pills, Project
Know, retrieved 22 May 2018, <>.

Reason Victoria 2018, Press release: Drug Reform, The Reason Party, retrieved 25 May 2018,

Ritter, A, 2010, ‘Policy Analysis: Illicit drugs policy through the lens of regulation’,
International Journal Of Drug Policy, vol. 21, no. 4, doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.11.002

Savulescu, J, Rochford, C & D’Hotman, D 2016, ‘We have a moral obligation to allow drug
analysis at music festivals’, The Conversation, 14 September, retrieved 24 April 2018,

The Victorian Greens 2018, Pill testing saves lives, The Greens, retrieved 25 May 2018,
< >.

Triple J Hack 2017, ‘Spilt Milk pulls out of Australia's first pill testing trial’, Triple J Hack ABC,
12 October, retrieved 24 April 2018, <

Adele Jacqueline Claasz

Adele is a second year Bachelor of Health

Science/Bachelor of Arts student, with majors in Health
Promotion and Politics. She actively volunteers in local
community and teaches English and Legal Studies at
local refugee and asylum seeker centre. Adele has a
keen interest in community wellbeing and education as
well as social justice as well as being passionate about
ensuring vulnerable populations can access and achieve
optimal health care, which inspired the policy analysis
of recreational pill testing. Adele aspires to work in
community development to implement progressive,
empowering health promotion programs.


To what extent do Australia’s privacy laws
protect the community?
Catherine Dent

In an age where customer data is forecast to trump oil as a commodity, Australia’s privacy
laws are incapable of protecting Australians from having their personal information traded.
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the ‘Privacy Act’) was enacted by the Federal Parliament to
come into effect in the late eighties. This pre-dated the emergence of the internet, emails
and text messaging. Amendments were made to the Privacy Act in the early 2000s to
address the new methods of data collection. By 2010, the Australian Law Reform
Commission published 295 recommendations to clarify and unify the status of Australian
privacy laws (Arnold 2012). The Federal government tabled the Privacy Amendment
(Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth) (the ‘Privacy Protection Amendment’) which
adopted 197 of the 295 recommendations, according to the Explanatory Memorandum
(Arnold 2012). The Privacy Protection Amendment created ‘a single set of privacy
principles’ in the form of thirteen Australian Privacy Principles (the ‘APPs’) (Privacy Act sch
1). Parliament intended that the APPs would act as a guide to Australian government
agencies and businesses to mandate transparent compliance with Australian privacy laws.
The APPs are found in schedule 1 of the Privacy Act complete with its own overarching
policy objective (sch 1 cl 1.1) which is ‘to ensure that APP entities… [private and public-
sector organisations] manage personal information in an open and transparent way’ (sch 1
cl 1.1). Six years on from the enactment, questions remain as to whether the Privacy
Protection Amendment, along with the APPs, have encouraged businesses to manage
personal information openly and transparently. This policy analysis will primarily use the
internal method to compare the intentions and objectives of the Privacy Protection
Amendment with the language of the legislation (Bacchi 2009). These indicate that the
policy does not meet the stated objectives and are thus failing to protect the community to
the standard it demands.

Background to the privacy debate

The APPs fail to recognise subversive operations to use Australians’ personal information to
manipulate consumer behaviour and influence national and global trading. Australians are
ever more frequently providing their personal information to businesses of all sizes: from
sole proprietorships such as the local tradesperson, to the small business and their loyalty
membership scheme, to national service providers and multi-national shipping companies.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of Australian businesses
with internet access increased from 94.7% to 94.8% to 95.3% over the period 2013 to 2016
(2017, 8166.0). Businesses are profiting from collecting customers’ personal information
when providing goods or services. By 2015-16, the annual income from Australian online
orders totalled $321 billion, an increase of $54 billion on 2013-14 numbers (2017, 8166.0).
The percentage of businesses with a website increased from 47.1% in 2013-14 to 50% by
2015-16 (Coster 2017, p. 134). Most critically, personal information that has been collected
through harmless online orders, membership subscriptions and internet communications,
are, or have the potential to be, used and disclosed unbeknownst to the community
(Thornhill and Hurley 2018, p. 151). Geo-targeting is used throughout the internet to track
the location where purchases are ordered (Kneller 2016, p. 346-347). This can be de-
identified, collated and sold to third-parties without breaching the APPs. If the information
is de-identified third-parties are then able to advertise to target consumer audiences
(Foreman 2014, p. 47). These operations are consented to by Australians, unaware of the
statements given at the time the information is collected (Burnett 2013, p. 71). Manual tick
buttons are built into website platforms to force customers to accept the privacy policy and
terms of use or not use the service, and thereby consenting to clauses that describe these
operations (p. 72; Bennett 2015, p. 143). There is no other choice for Australians under the
current status of the legislation to use the internet in this way and risk their personal

The Gillard government’s privacy policy rationale

The Privacy Protection Bill (the ‘Bill’) was proposed by the Gillard government to address
the outdated 2000s era amendments to the original 1988 Privacy Act. The privacy
regulations aligned with Labor’s policy platform at the time. Attorney-General Roxon, who
presented the Bill, declared in her Minister’s Second Reading speech, that by enacting the
Amendment ‘Labor is shifting power away from big companies – back to individuals and
working families’ (2012, p. 5210). In an interview with Hall, Roxon stated ‘I want to ensure
Australians can use the internet for business or for pleasure with confidence and not be
afraid of who is lurking behind the bright and glossy veneers’ (2012). The intention is
evident: to ‘enhance privacy protection’ for Australians (Explanatory Memorandum 2012, p.

Five Senators proposed amendments to the Bill. The Australian Greens expressed an overall
support for the aims and objectives of the Bill (Wright 2012, p. 9871). Senator Wright
detailed that the ‘strengthening’ of the privacy law would aim to align with article 17 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Australia is a signatory) which
states that ‘[n]o one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with… [their]
privacy…’ (2012, p. 9872; Australian Human Rights Commission 2018). The Greens
described however that the absence of definitive boundaries of what constitutes lawful
behaviour meant that the Amendment would fall short of international standards. In
foreshadowing these concerns, Senator Wright noted in her closing remarks that the
Australian Greens ‘will be monitoring the impact and effectiveness’ of the Privacy Protection
Amendment (Wright 2012, p. 9873).

Critically, the further Second Reading speeches by Members of Parliament alerted the house
to the potential shortfalls of the Privacy Protection Amendment. These were suggestions
not considered by the drafters. Senator Humphries noted that the Bill would receive
bipartisan support from the Liberal National Party (2012, p. 9829). However, the language
used in the draft Bill was said to be ‘extravagant’, ‘hyperbolic’ and used to ‘advance[e]
Labor’s agenda’ (p. 9829). Senator Humphries referenced the Senate Legal and


Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committees’ inquiry ‘that this legislation does not
represent a carefully worked-through piece of law-making’ (p. 9829). Furthermore, Mr
Holcroft of the Law Institute of Victoria was quoted raising concerns over the low threshold
for compliance with the APPs; for example, ‘[t]he phrase ‘reasonably necessary for… one or
more of the entity’s functions or activities’ is too broad’ (p. 9830). Moreover, Professor
Greenleaf of the Privacy Foundation noted ‘eight of the 13 principles are weaker than the…’
previous 2000s era amendments (2012, p. 9830). The Labor government aimed to
revolutionise Australian privacy law but has encountered difficulties since the inception of
the Bill.

Policy objectives of the APPs

The aspirational intentions of the Hon Roxon are evidenced in the parliamentary records
and drafted into the legislation. The policy objective of the Privacy Protection Amendment
is encapsulated in Australian Privacy Principle 1 (Privacy Act sch 1 cl 1). The overarching
principle in APP 1 is ‘to ensure that… [businesses] manage personal information in an open
and transparent way’. No definition is provided as to what is considered ‘open and
transparent’. It is interpreted to mean that entities ‘must take such steps as are reasonable
in the circumstances’ to comply with the APPs as a whole (sch 1 cl 1.2). Discussion focuses
on the troubles this presents in the language of the legislation. The language of the
legislation is broad and has enabled businesses to operate subversively, and thus not ‘open
and transparent[ly]’ and still be within the parameters of the APPs.

Five sets of principles

The 13 APPs are grouped into five sets of principles (Explanatory Memorandum 2012, p. 2).
As discussed, the first set contains the overarching principles of management of information
(APP 1 and 2). The second group addresses collection and storage of personal information
(APPs 3, 4 and 5). The third deals with the use and disclosure of personal information (APPs
6, 7, 8 and 9). The fourth details security (APP 10 and 11) and the fifth deals with access and
correction of data (APP 12 and 13).

Problems with the breadth of the APPs

The APPs apply to private sector and non-for-profit organisations with over $3 million in
annual turnover (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner 2015). Businesses with
a turnover less than this amount in any year long period are exempt from compliance with
the APPs. This includes sole proprietorships, partnerships, trusts and unincorporated
organisations. The annual turnover exemption ceases when an organisation transacts to
buy or sell personal information (Kalinich 2013). The Australian Small Business and Family
Enterprise Ombudsman’s detailed that over 700,000 Australian businesses had an annual
turnover of less than $2 million (2016, p. 9-10). This translates to 93% of Australian
businesses would prima facie fall within the annual turnover exemption under the APPs; if
they do not buy or sell data. Therefore, up to 93% of Australian businesses can handle
certain information ‘about’ individuals, such as customers and clients, and not be obliged to
comply with the APPs (Privacy Commissioner v Telstra Corporation Ltd (Grubb case) (2017)

347 Australian Law Reports 1 [57]-[66]). The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
submitted to the Bill’s Inquiry that in addition to the small business exemption, political
parties and law enforcement agencies would not be obliged to comply (Fletcher 2012, p. 4).
The Castan Centre provided an example of the practice of nightclubs storing scanned
drivers’ licences and biometric data of patrons for seven years (p. 4-5 citing Knaus 2012).
These businesses are not obligated to comply with the APPs. Lu in the Internet Law Bulletin
notes that there is no obligation on exempt businesses to securely collect, store, de-identify
and destroy information and no obligation to invest in expensive digital data security
systems and anti-malware (2013, p. 142-145). On this point, in the period 2015-16, the
nation was highly susceptible to scams and hackers; ‘Australia accounted for 11% of global
ransomware infections, more than the UK, Germany and Italy combined’ (Coster 2017, p.
132). The language of the Bill failed to adequately address the breadth of data use and risks
to Australians by businesses who rely on these exemptions.

The APPs expressly state in APP 1 that the legislation only applies to regulating the
management of ‘personal information’ (Privacy Act sch 1 cl 1.1). Personal information is
defined as being ‘information or an opinion about an identified individual, or… is reasonably
identifiable’ (s 6(1)). It includes an individual’s: name, address, phone number, bank
account details, addresses, email address and potentially location details if it is reasonably
capable of identification. To determine whether information could reasonably identify a
person, Tsoi and Milner suggest looking at the surrounding circumstances of the piece of
information (2016, p. 191). This considers the: nature, amount and availability of
information held by the receiver of the information (2016, p. 191). Consequently,
information that is de-identified can be used, bought, sold and traded without the
obligation to comply with the APPs. For example, Strava, designed an app to track the
fitness routes of its users and later publishing a world heatmap from personal location
information it collected (Clarke and Paxton 2018, p. 41-45). One billion routes were tracked
including the perimeter of sensitive military locations, potentially jeopardising the safety of
Australian defence forces (p. 41; Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2018). Although
Strava did not breach the APPs, it could have been more transparent in its alterable privacy
settings (Clarke and Paxton 2018, p. 42). Europe has recognised this error and as of May
2018 enacted the General Data Protection Regulation ‘to wrestle back control over the
information of internet users from… technology companies’ (Bogle 2018). Australia should
consider further reform to align with new international standards.

Overall assessment of the effectiveness of the Australian Privacy Principles

The APPs are clearly toothless in affecting real change in the way businesses operate. The
intentions of the policy were aspirational. A success of the legislation is that it encourages
businesses to implement privacy policies, however, this means businesses are readily able
to gain consent from customers to use and sell their data (Burnett 2013, pp. 71–74). Small
businesses are exempt from the requirement to have a privacy policy and to collect, store
and use information in an ‘open and transparent way’. Uncertainty in the type of
information the APPs regulate further complicates the parameters of the regulations.
Arnold (2012, p. 218) termed the Bill ‘one of the most significant developments in privacy
reform’, however, it is clear the Amendment failed to achieve the intended outcomes. The


Privacy Protection Amendment is only a starting point in overhauling the system. Further
reform is required to protect Australians and their privacy to a standard that the community
and international standards demand before there is no privacy left to protect.

AGS – see Australian Government Solicitor
Arnold, B 2012, ‘Enhancing the Act -- the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection)
Bill’, Privacy Law Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 7/8, pp. 218-222.
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retrieved 23 May 2018,
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win?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 25 May 2018,
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pp. 71–74.
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Humphries, Senator Australian Capital Territory).
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pp. 132–134.
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Protection) Bill 2012, Monash University Castan Centre for Human Rights Law,
retrieved 9 May 2018
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Bulletin, vol. 17, no. 2, p. 47.
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Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 9 May 2018,
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1966, 999 UNTS 171 (entered into force 23 March 1976).
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information security exposures and managing legal risks’, Internet Law Bulletin, vol.
15, no. 9, pp. 164–169.
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Bulletin, vol. 19, no. 5-6, pp. 342–349.
Lu, T 2013, ‘#thesocialrevolution – a practical legal guide to social media marketing’,
Internet Law Bulletin, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 142–145.
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OAIC 2018, ‘Australian privacy principles guidelines’, OAIC, retrieved 9 May 2018,
OAIC 2018, Privacy Act, OAIC, retrieved 9 May 2018, <
Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth).
Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 (Cth).
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Reports 1.
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Thornhill, M and Hurley, J 2018, ‘Access to metadata in civil proceedings – the impact of the
federal government’s recent decision’, Internet Law Bulletin, vol. 20, no. 8, pp. 151–
Tsoi, K and Milner, M 2016, ‘“What can I help you with?”: privacy and the digital assistant’,
Privacy Law Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 9, pp. 190–195.

Catherine Dent

I have recently completed the Bachelor of International

Studies (majoring in International Relations) and Bachelor of
Laws at Deakin University. The intersection between the law
and politics has always been an interest of mine and the topic
of privacy laws in Australia delves deep into space. I have
enjoyed combining my studies on transnational issues with
travel including to Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Nuclear Energy in Australia: Outdated and
Dangerous, a Missed Opportunity, or
Viable Alternative Energy Policy?
Darcy White

Executive Summary
This report will conduct a comparative analysis of the nuclear energy policy of Australia and
France, within the policy parameters of regulation, economic incentives, provision, and
exhortation. Australia and France share comparable regulatory policy regarding nuclear
energy safety, but differ in policy regarding environmental regulation. Economic incentive
policy, provision policy, and exhortation policy also differ between Australia and France.
Despite Australia and France both being wealthy, first world nations, policy decisions in the
area of nuclear energy have varied greatly. These policy approaches have resulted in vastly
different outcomes for each country; nuclear energy generation in Australia is non-existent,
whereas France sources approximately 75% of its energy from nuclear energy generation
( 2018).

Overview of Nuclear Energy Policy in Australia

Australian nuclear energy policy is limited to the areas of uranium mining and export, the
storage and disposal of radioactive waste, and the potential generation of nuclear power.
Currently, Australia is the third highest producer of uranium, supplies of which are sourced
from the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory, and the Beverley-Four Mile and Olympic
Dam mines in South Australia ( n.d.). Despite being the world’s third largest
producer of uranium, all uranium produced in Australia is exported (
2018). Reluctance to utilise Australian-sourced uranium for nuclear energy generation
within Australia is rooted in negative public attitudes towards nuclear power generation,
legislative constraints on the nuclear energy sector, and competing energy sources in both
renewable and fossil fuel sectors ( 2018).

Overview of Nuclear Energy Policy in France

In comparison, the nuclear energy policy of France shows marked difference to the nuclear
energy policy of Australia. Key differences include significantly less public aversion to
nuclear energy generation, a lack of restrictive legislation and no substantial competition
from alternate energy sectors. 75% of the France’s electricity is supplied by nuclear energy
( 2018), and nuclear energy policy is widely accepted by the French
populace. The entrenchment of nuclear energy generation as the main source of France’s
power supply can be attributed to the oil shock experienced by France in the aftermath of
1974 ( 2018). As a result, energy policy saw a shift towards nuclear energy
generation as France sought to capitalise on the engineering prowess of its citizens in lieu of
a lack of nature energy reserves of coal, oil, and gas. Consequentially, public opinion of
nuclear power has remained consistently positive, with 47% of French citizens surveyed in


2013 indicating they believed nuclear energy had more advantages than disadvantages, in
comparison to 40% believing the disadvantages outweighed the advantages, with negative
opinion having outweighed positive opinion during the course of France’s nuclear energy
history (OECD 2010).

Regulatory Policy of Australia and France

In both France and Australia, public policy regarding nuclear energy safety is governed by
legislation and regulatory bodies. Australian regulatory policy mirrors French policy,
however, Australian nuclear energy regulation is stricter than France concerning areas of
potential environmental effect.

Regulatory policy for potential nuclear energy generation in Australia consists of the
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (Cth) (‘ARPANS Act’) and
the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (Cth) (‘NRWM Act’). The ARPANS Act
created the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (‘ARPANSA’), an
organisation tasked with protecting the public and environment against the impact of
radiation. In June 2012 the ARPANS Act underwent an independent review, commissioned
by the Department of Health and Ageing, to assess its scope and operation, and to
determine the legal capacity of ARPANSA to fulfil its role as outlined in the ARPANS Act. The
findings of the report indicated that the Act should be updated to include key safety
principals outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to improve the ability
of the Act to fulfil its aims (MP Consulting 2012).

Currently, Australia produces only low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste and has
no central storage facility for nuclear waste, with the NRWM Act outlining that any site for
future nuclear waste storage must be nominated voluntarily. Potential Australian nuclear
energy is also subject to section 21(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which prevents nuclear power plants; classed as “nuclear
action” within the act, from being constructed “that ha(ve), will have or (are) likely to have a
significant impact on the environment”. This provision effectively prevents the construction
of nuclear power plants within Australia due to the highly strict nature of the regulation in
regard to any environmental impact of potential nuclear power plants (Mascher 2007).

French safety policy regarding nuclear power generation is centred in government oversight
and regulation. The French Nuclear Safety Authority is a government organisation
responsible for the regulation of nuclear safety, including the protection of workers,
patients, the general public and the environment from the associated risk of nuclear power
generation in France ( 2018). The Act on Transparency and Security
in the Nuclear Field (2006) is the primary French legislation governing safety standards
within the nuclear power generation industry. This legislation outlines the technical
processes and organisational measures relating to the design, construction, operation,
shutdown and dismantling of nuclear installations and the transport of radioactive
substances, in order prevent or limit the effects of accidents. The legislation also covers
measures to protect people and the environment against ionising radiation. Although these
legislative safeguards exist, France’s legislation is not as restrictive as the Australian
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), allowing the nuclear
energy industry a much less encumbered opportunity to expand and entrench itself in the
energy sector, which has contributed to the dominance of nuclear power in France.

Provision and Economic Incentive Policy of Australia and France

Australia and France have a shared policy history of energy subsidisation in the form of
research and development funding and direct subsidies. However, Australia has shown a
reluctance to extend these energy subsidies to the field of nuclear energy, and has instead
directed funding towards renewable energy and fossil fuel subsidisation.
In comparison, France delegated €4.28 billion to the subsidisation of nuclear power in the
area of research and development from 1980 to 2010. Economic incentive policy is also
intertwined with provision policy in France. The French government, in addition to
subsidising the French nuclear energy industry, also owns 85% of Électricité de France (EDF),
France’s largest electric utility company. The EDF operates France’s 58 nuclear reactors,
allowing the French government to provide electricity to the French populace, with 64.3% of
energy generated sourced from nuclear power plants. Furthermore, the French government
also owns a majority stake in the multinational conglomerate Orano, formerly known as
Areva. Majority ownership of the company is drawn from the French Alternative Energies
and Atomic Energy Commission (54.37%), Banque publique d’investissement (3.32%),
and Agence des participations de l'État (28.83%). Orano is responsible for the construction
of France’s nuclear power plants and further contributes to France’s strong policy of energy
provision via nuclear power generation.
However, France’s provision and subsidy policy may soon undergo change, as current
President Macron opposes federal subsidies as a solution to combatting the looming
retirement of multiple nuclear power plants. Macron has instead proposed injecting this
funding into the renewable energy sector, although this could prove difficult due to France’s
reliance on nuclear power as a pillar of its electricity market and economy (Silverstein,
2017). This potential shift could see French policy move towards a similar approach taken in
Australia, however, currently French policy remains heavily in favour of nuclear energy
provision and subsidisation, in direct contrast to Australian policy.

Exhortation Policy of Australia and France

The most publicly visible contrast between the nuclear energy policy of Australia and France
has been the variance in exhortation policy and in the guidance of public discourse
surrounding nuclear energy. Historically, Australian policy has consisted of widespread
opposition to nuclear energy from a public policy and public discourse standpoint, instead of
exhortation policy that actively encourages positive narratives around nuclear energy
generation (NAF 2010). This opposition to nuclear has manifested as a rest of negative the
negative connotations surrounding nuclear waste management and the conflation of
nuclear energy with nuclear weaponry (Hunt 2012). Both the Australian Labor Party and the
Liberal-National Coalition have been reluctant to discuss nuclear energy as an alternate
energy source, or outright opposed to establishment of nuclear power within Australia
( 2013). Due to the major parties’ unwillingness to engage in
discussion regarding nuclear energy, public discourse surrounding the issue has been
effectively quashed.

In contrast, French governments have long championed the cause of nuclear energy, with
nationalised companies such as Orano consistently leading public campaigns promoting
nuclear energy to the French public (Palfreman 2014). Claude Mandil, the General Director


for Energy and Raw Materials at the Ministry of Industry, states that French authorities have
placed great emphasis on the benefits provided by nuclear energy, instead of the emphasis
being placed solely on the associated risks. Television and internet advertising campaigns in
France, commissioned by nationalised bodies such as Orano and the EDF, stress that
without nuclear energy, France would grind to a halt ( no date). Thus, the
French public has been overwhelmingly receptive to pro-nuclear energy exhortation
campaigns. This receptiveness is indicated by fact that the majority of French people look
upon nuclear energy favorably and acknowledge the crucial goal it plays in their everyday
lives and in the broader economy.

When the nuclear energy policy of France and Australia is analysed from a comparative
standpoint, through examination of regulatory, provision, economic incentive, and
exhortation policy, it is evident that nuclear energy policy in France has seen immense
success in comparison to Australian policy. The widespread and deeply entrenched nature
of French nuclear energy is a testament to the policy decisions made by France, as the
country made a conscious decision to move towards nuclear in lieu of other energy sources.
France has competently regulated their nuclear energy sector in regard to public safety and
the environment, without restricting the industry through excessive bureaucracy and red
tape; allowing the industry room to expand extensively. France has contributed extensive
funding to research and development within their nuclear energy industry, and nationalized
major nuclear energy companies, allowing the industry further success and stability. These
policy decisions have then been reinforced through targeted advertising and information
campaigns, ensuring that the French public is relatively informed in regard to nuclear
energy, and as a result overwhelmingly supportive of it as a source electricity. The action
taken by France in directing public policy has been relatively unique, however, if Australian
policy had followed the same route as France, nuclear energy would likely be a large source
of Australia’s energy sector in the current day. However, due to combination of policy
factors of the introduction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
Act 1999 (Cth), lack of subsidisation and nationalisation, and anti-nuclear public discourse,
Australian nuclear policy took a markedly different route; languishing in the wake of fossil
fuels and renewables. In the current day, the success of France’s nuclear energy policy
would be extremely difficult to replicate in Australia; and although no longer considered
outdated and dangerous, nuclear energy could not function as a viable alternate energy
policy in Australia, and instead serves as a stark reminder of missed opportunity.

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Darcy White
Darcy is in her second year of a Bachelor of
Laws/Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Politics
and Policy Studies/ International Relations. Darcy
moved from regional Victoria to study in Melbourne
and has always possessed a strong interest in politics
and the law. As President of the Deakin Debating
Society and Deakin Volunteer Society, and an
executive member of Deakin Enviro Club, she has a
keen interest in the intersection between the law,
social justice, conservation of the environment, and
alternative energy sources.


What can Australia learn from the
‘Portuguese Model’ of drug legislation?
Dylan Duman

This report provides a comparative analysis between the current illicit drug policies of
Australia and Portugal with the aim to highlight how a progression from the outdated
criminal justice approach to drugs is required, should Australians wish to effectively
minimise individual and community drug related harms.
Conservative Prime Minister John Howard implemented, in 1997 the ‘Tough on Drugs’ policy
which he stated was to continue a focus on harm reduction, despite the name suggesting
policy more akin to Nixon’s 1971 ‘War on Drugs’ (History 2018). $187 million dollars was
equally allocated to law enforcement, education, and harm minimisation, rehabilitation and
counselling between the years of 1992 and 2002 (Mendes 2001: 6). The distribution of
campaign rhetoric, however was far from even, with focus placed on a zero-tolerance
policy; Howard went so far as to describe the issue as a ‘moral’ crusade, denying the drug
problem as a public health issue, and opposing harm minimisation efforts including heroin
trials in the ACT, and safe injecting facilities (Mendes 2001: 6). Much of Howard’s policy
remains intact; while the current ‘National Drug Strategy’ emphasises harm minimisation,
the underlying policies echo his parochial attitude towards drugs as a criminal problem.
Hughes and Wodak (2012: 4) highlight frustration at how “morality, values and political
priorities” often shape discussion around drug policy, resulting in legislation to the
detriment of the public. This was not the case in Portugal however.
For decades Portugal, like most nations implemented prohibitionist policies to combat a
growing drug problem and like in most nations, these policies failed. Economic hardship and
a high unemployment rate resulted in a rapidly growing heroin epidemic, the likes of which
could not be quelled by “dogmatic policies of the past, based on tougher laws and
abstinence orientated prevention” (Hughes and Wodak 2012: 7). It was in this climate that
João Goulão alongside a committee of ten others prepared the report that would ultimately
lead to Portugal’s current drug policy. In 2001, Portugal decriminalised all illicit substances,
making possession offences an administrative rather than criminal issue, allowing for critical
funding to be channelled away from the criminal justice system and into harm minimisation

Australia is currently experiencing a rampant methamphetamine (‘Ice’) problem, just as

Portugal was trialled by heroin nearly two decades ago. Australians are some of the largest
consumers of illicit drugs in the world across several categories. While Portugal faces the
geographical challenge of being placed along key drug trade routes, Australia’s isolation
means the adoption of new psychoactive substances occurs quickly placing users at risk of
consuming harmful unknown chemicals (Drug Policy Australia 2017: 4). No two nations
exhibit identical drug problems, but just as prohibitionist policies were applied to countless
contexts, policies of harm minimisation can be applied.

The Australian Approach
Australian drug policy takes a prohibitionist, criminal justice approach under the façade of
harm minimisation. The 2017-26 National Drug Strategy is centred around the three pillars
of demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction; terms introduced into
Australian drug policy in the 1990s (Department of Health 2017). Little else has changed
since then, with the nation still failing to acknowledge drugs as a public health problem. The
Strategy, while extensively detailing objectives and highlighting areas of concern,
completely fails to mention how these will be addressed: with strict enforcement of criminal
law (Department of Health 2017). This brings the integrity of entire document, and the
policies it represents, into question, as a zero-tolerance, strictly policed punitive drug
system aimed at prevention is in direct contravention to the key harm minimisation
principles of acceptance of drug use as a public health issue, and that eradication of drugs is
impossible (Mendes 2001: 2-3). Australia has adopted policies aimed at harm minimisation,
including an investment of $130 million between 1991 and 2000 into a needle syringe
program which, it is estimated has prevented 25,000 HIV, and 21,000 hepatitis C infections,
saving countless lives and the tax payer between $2.4 and $7.7 billion (Wodak 2014: 195-6).
Positive results such as these make it difficult to understand why health measures
supported by strong evidence such as safe-injecting rooms face opposition, drawn-out
introduction and ‘parsimonious’ funding, if being accepted at all, while tried and failing
criminal justice policies easily receive approval and funding (Wodak 2014: 191). Between
2009-10, state level government expenditure in response to illicit drugs favoured law
enforcement which received 66% of funds; compared to an underwhelming 21% for
treatment, 9% for prevention and 2% for harm reduction (Wodak 2014: 191).

When the 2011 Global Commission on Drug Policy Report concluded the 40-year war on
drugs had failed, a high level Australian Roundtable convened to discuss national policy,
agreeing that prohibition of certain illicit drugs had indeed been a comprehensive failure.
(Hughes and Wodak 2012: 4). This failure is highlighted in the immense scale of Australian
drug use, ranking yearly amongst the world’s biggest drug consumers with 15% of the
population having used an illicit substance in the past 12 months (Drug Policy Australia
2017: 1). In 2007, Australians were the world’s 7th highest cocaine users, 4th highest
marijuana users, 3rd highest amphetamine users and number one ecstasy consumers; a title
held for many years (UNDOC 2008: 59, 73, 75, 83; UNDOC 2012: 84) This is despite having
the world’s 4th highest anti-narcotic GDP expenditure at 0.41% between 2000 and 2004
(UNDOC 2008: 36). In the past decade, drug related arrests have increased 87.6%, with a
40.1% increase in cannabis related arrests; in 2015 Victorian cannabis arrests totalled
10,292, 90% of which were consumer only offences despite the emerging global trend of
leniency towards this drug (ACIC 2017: 12; Drug Policy Australia 2017: 3). This costly “heavy
handed law enforcement response” to drugs criminalises the users drug policy aims to
protect, with young people aged 14 to 29 worst effected (Drug Policy Australia 2017: 1).
Criminal convictions for minor offences brand individuals with a stigma that follows them
for life, often making it difficult to find work. Further stigmatisation of drug users comes
from the expensive government funded campaigns that portray the archetypal Ice user as a
“ferocious offender in a hospital foyer attacking police and staff”. While there are instances
of “agitated user(s)” this is far from the norm and results in unwillingness to seek the
treatment required for recovery (Drug Policy Australia 2017: 7). This marginalisation leads to


cyclic drug use, as the funds for necessary services to aid these individuals are not made

Further failings in Australian drug policy come from an inability to achieve a main objective
in the law enforcement model – to decrease availability and thus increase the cost of illicit
substances. Between 2000 and 2010, despite an increase in seizures, inflation adjusted
prices have steadily fallen for cocaine by 14% and marijuana and heroin by 49%; an
overwhelming majority of users “reported it was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’” to obtain drugs across
all major categories (Wodak 2014: 192). This indicates that despite the huge expenditures
on Australia’s war on drugs, organised crime still thrives alongside demand.

The Portuguese Model

Portugal’s 2001 decriminalisation of drugs fostered global attention as detractors and
devotees eagerly awaited the results that would have widespread implications. It is
important to understand that in line with the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Narcotic
Drugs and Psychoactive Substances Drugs were not legalised, but rather made an
administrative issue while laws regarding trafficking and production of drugs still held strong
criminal sanctions. This earned Portugal’s policy approval from the International Narcotics
Control Board (Whitelaw 2017: 95). Individuals found to be in possession of up to a ten-day
supply of illicit substances may be referred to a Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug
Addiction, a panel comprised of a treatment professional, social worker and lawyer
representing one of Portugal’s 18 districts (Hughes and Wodak 2012: 6; Whitelaw 2017: 93).
These panels have authority to sanction users with fines, community service and bans on
attending specific locations, however their primary purpose is to understand the
circumstances of an individual and help them seek appropriate treatment. For this reason,
most sentences are suspended as the Commission’s goal is not to force treatment but
rather have users enter into it voluntarily (Murkin 2014: 1). In the years after
decriminalisation, drug related offenses dealt with by the courts halved from 14,000 to
approximately 5,500, and with it dropped the prison population incarcerated for drug
offences from 44% to 21% in 2012 (Murkin 2014: 3). This greatly alleviated the strain on the
criminal justice system, freeing up funding for the adoption of evidence-informed harm
reduction policies. One such example are the vans that operate every day of the year,
providing supplies including clean needles, condoms and methadone while maintaining
contact with and understanding of the communities they serve (Hughes and Wodak 2012: 7;
Whitelaw 2017: 92,95). The results speak for themselves: addict Mario Oliveira who used to
steal to support his habit is now regaining control of his life saying next to a methadone van
“This is the best thing to happen to this country. If I couldn’t come here, I don’t know if I’d
still be alive” (Kristof 2017).

The architect of the decriminalisation policy, João Goulão, stated “the biggest effect has
been to allow the stigma of drug addiction to fall, to let people speak clearly and to pursue
professional help without fear” (Transform 2014). It is clear this health-based approach has
had lasting positive outcomes across various goals shared by the criminal justice approach.
The catalyst for the introduction of such revolutionary policy, a rampant heroin problem is
now under control with an estimated 25,000 current users compared to 100,000 when the
policy began (Kristof 2017). In addition to this, HIV cases among those who inject drugs have

fallen from 1,016 in 2001 to 56 in 2012, with a decrease from 568 to 38 new cases per year
over the same period. Drug related deaths have drastically decreased from approximately
80 in 2001 to 6 in 2015, the lowest in Western Europe (Kristof 2017; Murkin 2014: 3). Post
decriminalisation, Portuguese youths between 16 and 18 saw a decrease in lifetime drug
use from 27.6% to 21.6%. This is important as introduction to drugs at this age group often
defines future patterns throughout life. While lifetime prevalence did increase slightly
across other age cohorts, this can be explained by older generations having never tried
drugs being replaced by younger individuals, more likely to have experimented with illicit
substances in contemporary times. Portugal also have the lowest lifetime prevalence of
marijuana use in the European Union, less than half that of the majority of members
(Whitelaw 2017: 97). Desirable outcomes for “crimes strongly related to drugs” have also
been achieved, with reductions as much as 60% for assault, 30% for robberies and 10% for
theft under the new policy (Whitelaw 2017: 96). Having been in effect for over 15 years
now, it is clear the Portuguese Model has been a success from which the rest of the world
should seek guidance.

Moving Forward
The decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal is supported by an action plan centred around the
goals of reduction of use, and reduction of the health and social consequences of use
(Hughes and& Wodak 2012: 7) This is largely comparable to Australia’s National Drug
Strategy, and highlights how the application of Portuguese laws could help achieve key
objectives. After a trip to Portugal with four other Members of Parliament, Liberal Craig
Kelly, chairman of a parliamentary inquiry into Ice reported back of a great success, from
which Australia could learn. Despite highlighting Portugal’s drug related death rate was, as a
result of the new policy 29 times lower than Australia’s, he was met with opposition (Brown
2017: para. 6). Former Prime Minister Turnbull accepted that “we cannot arrest our way out
of a drug problem”, and slowly the introduction of harm minimisation policies such as the
safe-injecting rooms in Sydney and Melbourne are taking place, but without further
intervention Australia’s drug problem will continue to flourish. The issue of stigmatisation
discouraging users from seeking medical intervention for fear of “persecution or
prosecution” could, as it was in Portugal, be solved by the implementation of evidence-
based, health-focused policy funded by savings from “intelligence, arrests, prosecutions and
incarceration of drug users” (Drug Policy Australia 2017: 5, 7) These policies could be
specifically tailored of the Australian context, with for example the introduction of readily
available pill testing. Due to Australia’s geographical isolation and strong border controls
criminal organisations constantly create new psychoactive substances to remain
competitive. This means that otherwise low risk drugs such as MDMA are commonly tainted
by dangerous chemicals, as the results of the government opposed pill testing trial in 2018
found (Drug Policy Australia 2017: 4; Healy and Sibthorpe 2018). Australian
decriminalisation would allow testing like this to become commonplace, inevitably saving
lives. The World Health Organisation undertook a World Mental Health Survey in 17
countries, finding that those with strict user-level criminal drug policies did not have a lower
prevalence of use than those with more liberal approaches. Former UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-Moon highlighted that “people addicted to drugs should receive health services for
the treatment of their addiction”, alongside decriminalisation (Wodak 2014: 197). It is
therefore clear, that Australia, having unsuccessfully waged war on drugs for decades


should accept the use of illicit substances as public health problem with appropriate policy
made accordingly.

ACIC 2017, Illicit Drug Data Report 2016-17, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission,
retrieved 22nd May 2018, from <
Brown, G 2017, MPs urge drug decriminalisation after trip to Portugal, The Australian,
retrieved 22nd May 2012, from <
Department of Health 2017, National Drug Strategy 2017-2026, Australian Government
Department of Health, retrieved 26 April 2018,
Drug Policy Australia 2017, Promoting Evidence-Based Drug Policy, Human Rights and Public
Health, Parliament of Victoria, retrieved 22nd May 2018, from
Healey, J & Sibthorpe, C 2018, Groovin the Moo pill tests find lethal stimulant, paint and
toothpaste in drugs, ABC, retrieved 25th May 2017, from <
History 2018, War On Drugs, History, retrieved 23rd May 2018, from
Hughes, C & Wodak, A 2012, What can Australia learn from different approaches to drugs in
Europe including especially Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden?,
University of New South Wales, retrieved 22nd May 2018, from
Kristof, K 2017, How to Win a War on Drugs: Portugal treats addiction as a disease, not a
crime, The New York Times, retrieved 24th May 2017, from
Mendes, P 2001, ‘Social Conservatism vs Harm Minimisation: John Howard on Illicit Drugs’,
Journal of Economic and Social Policy, vol. 6, no. 1, article 2, retrieved 26 April 2018,
Murkin, G 2014, Drug decriminalisation in Portugal: Setting the record straight, United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, retrieved 22nd May, from
Transform 2014, Drug decriminalisation in Portugal: Setting the record straight, retrieved
22nd May 2018, from <

UNDOC 2008, Drug Policy and Results in Australia, United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime, retrieved 22nd May 2018, from <
UNODC 2014, World Drug Report 2014, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, retrieved
22nd May 2018, from
Whitelaw, M 2017, ‘A Path to Peace in the U.S. Drug War: Why California Should Implement
the Portuguese Model for Drug Decriminalisation’, Loyola of Los Angeles
International & Comparative Law Review, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 81-113, retrieved 26
April 2018, Legal Source, EBSCOhost.
Wodak, A 2014, ‘The abject failure of drug prohibition’, Australian and New Zealand Journal
of Criminology, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 190-201, DOI: 10.1177/0004865814524424

Dylan Duman

Dylan is currently undertaking my final year of a Bachelor of

Arts, with majors in public relations and politics. He has a
great love of the outdoors, value self-sufficiency, and relish
any opportunity to talk to someone or learn something new,
as well as being fascinated by the news media and in
particular how it shapes public discourse, leading him to
analyse Australia's drug policy. Public opinion towards this
issue is largely shaped by the media echoing sentiments of
politicians more interested in maintaining the status quo
than making contentious changes for the advancement of our
nation. Dylan hopes that in the future, he will be able to
influence positive changes in our public policy.


The secular state: Is religious
discrimination in Victoria still present due
to lack-lustre law?
Hannah Mansfield

In Victoria, under the 2010 Equal Opportunities Act, in order to protect religious freedom,
religious groups and individuals are exempt from sexual discrimination legislation in
circumstances that are in tension with their beliefs (Uniting Church in Australia Justice and
International Mission Unit, 2009). Currently, there is no overarching religious Bill of Rights,
only exemptions to anti-discrimination acts, such as the 2010 Equal Opportunities Act in
Victoria (Kelly, 2018). This has created controversy in regard to the amount of religious
protection is afforded in Australia, whether there is too much or not enough. This analysis
will examine the extent to which there should be exemptions for religious authorities to
discriminate against people in Victoria based on their sexuality.

The method of policy analysis that is most suitable to this subject is the Policy Discourse
Analysis (Bacchi, 2014). According to Bacchi (2014), Policy Discourse Analysis is appropriate
when the implications of the problem representation are to be studied, in order to
understand the dominant discourse and competing discourse behind the formation of
policy. This is relevant in the examination of the extent to which these exemptions for
religious authorities are able to discriminate against Victorian citizens based on their
sexuality, and what this implies. This includes taking into consideration the problem
representation, the background to it, and the competing discourse derived from the issues
that have been unresolved because of this particular problem representation.

The problem representation

The problem representation in regard to the Equal Opportunities Acts and its exemptions
are defined by the language in which is used to construct it and what is inferred by this
(Bacchi, 2014). The dominant problem embedded in this policy is that it is unlawful to
infringe on religious belief, and these exceptions are necessary for various factions of
society to coexist (Sneddon, 2016). However, this is problematic as the subtext of this policy
is that freedom of religion is therefore more important than the human right to not be
discriminated against because of an individual’s sexuality (Jones, 2017). In a recent review
into the freedom of religion lead by Ruddock and commissioned by the government, one of
the submissions stated that the current portrayal of religious rights was unsatisfactory and,
“Promulgates the view that the right to freedom of religion is a ‘secondary’ right that is
catered for by way of ‘exception’ in certain matters to the more important rights that it is
distinguished from,” (Kelly, 2018). Kelly points to the use of exemptions as an implication
that religious freedom is under threat because it is seen as less important than the former
anti-discrimination law. Although another perspective is that the separation between
religion and the state has meant that there is little legislation for religion, religion being

considered largely a ‘private matter’ just as politics is not enacted in consideration to a God
(The Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011).

Presuppositions and assumptions

It is important to have a solid understanding of a policy’s background knowledge, binary’s,
key concepts and categories (Bacchi, 2014). During the 1950s and 1960s in Australia, two-
thirds of the population comprised of British Protestants (Bouma, 2017). Australia is
currently partly Christian, partly multi-faith and partly secular (The Australian Human Rights
Commission, 2011) so there is little unanimity on the issue of religious freedom, despite the
numbers of atheists in Australia having risen higher than the number of Catholics, illustrated
in the 2016 census (Bouma, 2017). As the number of non-religious citizens in Australia is
increasing, amending these exceptions within the Act and allowing the state to interfere
with church beliefs can be seen as setting a precedent for attacking the church’s values (The
Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011).

Bacchi (2014) stated that a key role in Western public policy is, “a set of binaries-i.e.
equality/difference,” and that this, “rests upon specific meanings of equality”. In this case,
the problem representation refers to all of Australian’s, or specifically Victorian’s, ‘equal’
right to voluntarily adhere to their personal religion. The ‘difference’ that is seen as the
opposing force to this specific equality, is not same sex sexuality nor the act of same sex
marriage, but what it implies for those who do not agree with it; the potential erosion of
religious freedom from the changing face of Australia’s culture.

This representation has been established as a result of the country’s rapidly changing
national ideology which has put pressure on the nations conservative faction to preserve
their ideology; Koziol (2018) coins this to be a, “new culture war”. The current dominant
discourse put forward by the right can be summarised by former deputy prime minister
John Anderson, quoted saying, “We’re living in the age of enormous cultural disharmony.”
He continued to elaborate on the ‘battle in our culture’, siting the ‘classic version of
freedom’ opposing the ‘latter day, politically correct incarnation’ (Koziol, 2018). This has
everything to do with religion. Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke supported
Anderson, stating that, “The Labor Party is pursuing a militant secularist agenda," (Koziol,
2018). Discriminating on citizens based on their sexuality is not new to the right side of
politics. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbot in 2013 implied that to support the legalisation
of gay marriage was to adhere to what was politically fashionable (Grube & van Acker ,
2017). It is a reaction to the deinstitutionalization of marriage which the Liberal party must
confront with the weakening of marriage norms (Grube & van Acker , 2017). Mackay (2018)
writes that the very idea of marriage equality infringing on the freedom of religion is absurd.
Fewer than 30% of Australian marriages are conducted in churches and Mackay writes that,
“The majority of heterosexual couples have definitively declared that marriage, for them,
has nothing to do with religion,” (Mackay, 2018).

These ideas that ‘Christians are in danger of being silenced’, ‘Religious institutions could be
pushed from public life’ and that ‘the right to freedom of religion is at risk of further
erosion’ (Kelly, 2018) come from the fear of cultural progression. There is a wide
segregation between those over and under 50 in Australia in regard to what is seen to be


normal and expected for individuals religiously (Bouma, 2017). And even though the
popularity of formal religion is not on the rise, Pentecostalist churches like Hillsong and
other Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals have seen pockets of strong growth (Mackay,

Limitations and silences

When, in 2017, same-sex marriage was legalized, the exceptions in the 2010 Equal
Opportunities Act meant that religious clergy could refuse to marry LGBTQI citizens, further
sparking competing discourse that argued whether there was fundamental homophobia
behind individual exemptions to sex discrimination law (Jones, 2017). It is extremely
problematic that Australian citizens voted ‘yes’ to legalizing same-sex marriage, and yet
discrimination is still perpetuated by religious authorities under the claim of protectionism
(Sneddon, 2016). As well as social stigma that’s bolstered by discrimination, in a VicHealth
study it was concluded that there is a “Strong relationship between exposure to
discrimination and poor mental health, especially depression” (Uniting Church in Australia
Justice and International Mission Unit, 2009). Discrimination has been proven to actually
strengthen structural inequalities and is not only a problem for the individual but also has
an impact on community health (Uniting Church in Australia Justice and International
Mission Unit, 2009). Harris (2017) believes that religious practitioners have the right to
discriminate but in the case of private business’, “There is no consideration of conscience
which logically justifies discrimination against people on the ground of their sexual
orientation,”. It implies that only when homophobia and discrimination is religiously
institutionalized that it is acceptable, which is deeply problematic. When a church makes a
commitment to the doctrine that, “Homosexuality is not part of God’s good purposes for
humanity (Foster, 2017),” it is not very far from hate speech. It raises the question of
whether this same discrimination would be acceptable if it were another inherent human
characteristic that someone was deemed unacceptable for, such as race. Liberty Victoria
argues that, “If religious groups sought exemption from laws preventing racial
discrimination there would be public consternation. Substituting the word ‘black’ for
women and homosexuals illustrates the point: modern Australia would find such
discrimination unacceptable,” (The Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011).

The effects of the problem representation

The main effects of this problem representation have been the intense surge of
conservative fervour with many wanting to preserve religious freedom even further, or in
comparison the creation of groups who wish to protect the people from religion. Religious
assemblies, such as The Uniting Church National Assembly in Australia and Liberty Victoria,
argue that these exceptions within the act should be expanded to encompass an Australian
Human Rights Charter to strengthen protections afforded to religious organisations (The
Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011). Others, in the 2011 Human Rights
Commission, argued that a different charter should be created to protect people from
religion itself (The Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011). The main reaction to the
apparent media storm has been that of segregation. In a submission to a human rights
paper, an anonymous woman submitted on behalf of a Christian group, writing, “Being
Christians I know that we would feel uncomfortable doing voluntary work among people
with differing views & values to our own.” (The Australian Human Rights Commission,
2011). This begs the question of how much freedom should religions have. A Christian think

tank published a paper where it was written that, “A truly secular state is a pluralist state; a
place in which competing ideas and practices are permitted in the public square without
fear of censure,” (McAlpine, 2017). It emphasises the need for total freedom of speech,
freedom of religion; and implies that a complete lack of government control on religion
would be that which is optimum.

Dissemination and defence

What cannot be ignored in this analysis, is that religions are self-evidently private
associations (Harris, 2017). To be a part of a religion is voluntary and one must agree
independently to adhere to the principles of that institution. Harris (2017) states that, “The
right to exclude non-believers - on any grounds - can be said to be fundamental to the
capacity of a religious group to define itself,” as the very act of accepting a set of beliefs
means that one must not believe in whatever else, hence ‘discriminating’. Harris argues that
it is for that reason that, ‘ministers should not be required to officiate at marriages between
same-sex couples’ (Harris, 2017). With such rampant discourse, particularly from the media,
it is difficult to predict whether the dominant discourse problem could alter.

As Harris surmises, if one wants to, “Comply with the doctrines, beliefs or principles of their
religion… [they must acknowledge] … what a religion's doctrines require[s] (2017).” Legally
religious organisations are free to discriminate against Victorian citizens based on their
sexuality, and until that religious doctrine changes, it can be surmised that these
discrimination exemptions will remain. As it is written in the 2010 Equal Opportunities Act,
“Exceptions are required to help balance competing rights and worldviews within our
pluralistic society,” (Uniting Church in Australia Justice and International Mission Unit,
2009). To address this, human rights agencies could instead “engage more meaningfully and
more regularly with religious organisations to increase empathy and understanding,” as a
solution that would leave further law-making or amendment unnecessary (The Australian
Human Rights Commission, 2011).

Bacchi, C., 2014. Analysing Policy: What's the problem represented to be?. 1 ed. Melbourne:
P.Ed Australia.

Bouma, G. D., 2017. Census 2016 shows Australia’s changing religious profile, with more
‘nones’ than Catholics. [Online]
Available at:
profile-with-more-nones-than-catholics-79837 [Accessed 29 April 2018].

Foster, N., 2017. Religious freedom for churches after a possible "yes" vote to same sex
marriages. [Online]
Available at:
possible-yes-vote [Accessed 28 5 2018].

Grube, D. & van Acker , E., 2017. Rhetorically defining a social institution: how leaders have
framed same-sex marriage. Australian Journal of Political Science, 52(2), pp. 183-198.


Harris, B., 2017. Human Rights and the Same-Sex Marriage. Journal of Politics and Law,
10(4), pp. 60-72.

Jones, T. W., 2017. The marriage equality survey is won, but the battle against
discrimination continues. [Online]
Available at:
battle-against-discrimination-continues-85828 [Accessed 29 April 2018].
Kelly, J., 2018. Ruddock inquiry into freedom of religion puts bill of rights back on the
agenda. [Online]
Available at:
story/b3254dc18f37d361c7303a15b18b3800 [Accessed 28 May 2018].

Koziol, M., 2018. 'We are absolutely in a new culture war': 'Religious freedom' next on the
Liberal agenda. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28 May 2018].

Mackay, H., 2018. Australia Reimagined. 1st ed. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia.
McAlpine, S., 2017. Freedom of religion effects more of us than you think. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28 May 2018].

Sneddon, M., 2016. Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act: Inherent Requirements and the
Problem of Discrimination. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 29 April 2018].

The Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011. Freedom of religion and belief in 21st
century Australia, Sydney: Australian Human Rights Commission.

Uniting Church in Australia Justice and International Mission Unit, 2009. A balancing act :
the right not to be harmed by discrimination versus the right to religious freedom. 1st ed.
Melbourne: Uniting Church in Australia.

Hannah Mansfield
Hannah is currently completing her first year at Deakin
studying both a Bachelor of Politics and a Diploma of
Indonesian. She is a founding member of Deakin’s Women in
Politics Group and works in two different bookshops along
Geelong and the Surf Coast. While Hannah has previously
worked in retail, and more recently as a campaign manager
for a candidate in the 2018 state election, she aims to one
day work as a policy advisor or political scientist. Hannah first
chose to write on the topic of religious discrimination not
because of its religious nature, but because she is deeply
interested in the ways that policies can shape society, and
segregate or unite factions of communities. Freedom of
religion and freedom of sexuality are both important in
Australia and she feels that this was a great opportunity to
better understand the discourse between the two in 2018


A genealogy of policy making for
responding to Aboriginal Family violence
in Tasmania
Jo James

The report yapulingina kani - Good to see you talk, published in 2002 and launched by the
then Premier of Tasmania, constitutes the first document in Tasmania to fully address the
problem of Aboriginal family violence. This essay explores how present day policy for
addressing domestic violence in Tasmania has been substantially informed by this report.
When the Government of Australia funded the Partnerships against Domestic Violence
program in Tasmania the qualitative research project undertaken was to provide an
insightful and in-depth understanding of the nature and extent of Aboriginal family violence
which during the following decade was to inform further research, trial programs, policy
making and partnership-making between Government agencies, Non-Government
Organisations (NGOs), community-based groups and service providers. In the light of this
genealogy, the most recent policy Safe Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania Family Violence
Action Plan 2015-2020 is critically appraised for its dilution of the recommendations that the
yapulingina kani report proposed. The report made strong recommendations and won
strong support from its funding agencies, the Office of Aboriginal Affairs (OAA) and Women,
Tasmania, Department of Premier and Cabinet. It made a critically important impetus for
restoring autonomy to the Aboriginal community in ways in which Aboriginal people would
form reciprocal partnerships with Governments and empower the people to address the
problem of reducing the extent of violence in their community according to their own
cultural customs and laws.
The essay adopts an approach to policy analysis that is characterised by reflecting upon and
questioning and interpreting the discourses that have grown around policy making for
addressing family violence in Tasmania. Both Carol Bacchi (2012) and Kevin Dunn and Iver B.
Neuman (2016) insist that reflecting, questioning and respecting the importance of
language in discourse—that is, in consultations and conversations— “enable us to make
sense of the world and to act within it” (2012, p.2). yapulingina kani did collect extensive
information and materials to be made available to the public by the OAA. Though “the
original intention was to collate and disseminate best practice”, it became clear during
consultations with over 150 Aboriginal community members state-wide, including the Bass
Strait Islands, it “was not possible to justify a Government department deciding what was
and what was not appropriate for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community” (Pugh, 2002,
Forward). We return then to the nature of the discourses that Aboriginal people disclosed in
trust so that the real problem of family violence in their community could be told through
story, the Aboriginal cultural way of being and communicating. In this way, we follow
Bacchi’s WPR approach, “What’s the problem presented to be” (2012, p.2). We overcome
presuppositions and assumptions that others might make about the problem, and we see

how the stories represent the problem in ways that can be understood by most human
There are rather clinical descriptions of domestic and family violence that appear in
Government documents and do not at all give a sense of the real life experience of the
nature, extent and disruption to healthy living and well-being that Aboriginal people have
suffered. This has never been a discourse that has been solved in Australia — Aboriginal
people have lived with alienation from their land and country, loss of their children, loss of
autonomy and sovereignty and family violence ever since colonization about 250 years ago.
An answer to the question, “What is Domestic and Family Violence?” in Government
documents goes like this.

Domestic and family violence refers to acts of violence, intimidation and

coercion that occur between people of different or same sex who have,
or have had, an intimate relationship: violence between family members;
between partners, housemates or violence towards or from children.
These acts include physical, sexual, emotional, financial and psychological
abuse. No matter the circumstances, or whether the individual
experiencing it recognizes it, domestic and family violence is a crime.
(2016, PM&C Domestic Family Violence Policy, p.2)

Presuppositions and assumptions are clear—commit violence in the home and you commit
a crime, and quite possibly punishment, separation from family, incarceration and further
alienation is imposed on perpetrators. In contrast, ya pulingina kani fully amplifies the
problem of violence in the Aboriginal community, and illuminates and puts first the
experience of victims, and emphasizes the importance of opportunities for healing from
suffering of both victims and perpetrators. It contains no punitive assumptions. In many
ways it was a document that appeared before its time. It preempts David Mellor’s research
which inverted attention to Koorie Aboriginal victims of racism over perpetrators bringing
much more understanding to the problem of suffering racism and ways of recovering from it
At the heart of ya pulingina kani is trust. Aboriginal people came forward to tell their stories
in the hope that they would “go somewhere”.

ya pulingina kani – Good to see you talk is a story told by Aboriginal

people about Indigenous family violence in Tasmania. It is a story that
releases the voices of individuals who suffer pain and who offer
compassion by coming to terms with their own experience of violence
and through opening their hearts and minds to understand it. The stories
in ya pulingina kani merge into one full story because the voices echo
across Tasmania as if in response and in unison. (Pugh, 2002, p.1)

I have permission from the person who told her story to the consultants originally to use it
in my essay. It shows something much deeper and dire than a detached government policy
attempts to describe.
The story, “The Second Generation”, came through a conversation between an Aboriginal
woman (referred to here as “she”) and project researcher-consultants as they sat on a porch
together looking over a city.


We drank coffee and some of us smoked in that communal way that
helps you think and talk. (2002, p.5)

She is a very confident and articulate woman who shows no emotion. The talk took her to a
different place and opened her up to speak freely. She said that she had found her husband
and “cut him down” after a suicide attempt observed by her son.

I took my son to counselling for four years. My daughter never spoke

about it. Their father didn’t, wouldn’t talk about it. He had guns and
alcohol. I became a victim and their father became a perpetrator at the
same time. He had to tell me he loved me with his fists. (ibid.)

She spoke about caring for young people, about breaking the cycle of violence for the
second generation, and about perpetrators deserving a second chance. She recommended
that more stories be told to give more people the chance to open and heal. Her wish
manifests in the ya pulingina kani recommendations. ya pulingina kani justifies “what we
want” for building community capacity to heal suffering of victims and perpetrators, to say,
“No! to violence whatever the cause” and guide young people to build a strong and proud
community. It does not demand. It simply asks for proper support. It asks fundamental far-
reaching questions that I think ought still to be asked today of any policy or strategy for
Aboriginal family violence.

Do you decide who gets what support because it is a right or it is an

entitlement that people get what they need to survive – food, clothing,
shelter and health services? Do you decide who gets what because
people need love, respect, honour, dignity and belonging to realise their
full human potential? How do we advise governments on making
decisions about the wants that the voices in this story express? (2002,

The first recommendation, for reciprocity, what is given to governments is given back
to the people—for an Indigenous Family Violence (IFV) Working Party to be charged
with “protecting the integrity of stories and the confidence of the people who shared
them” and advise the Government to continue to initiate talks in the community,
publishing and promoting stories. The second is support for community healing—
training Aboriginal participants in community grief and healing work to continue the
process that ya pulingina kani began. The third about partnerships might be
questioned: did it gain enough support that could carry the findings of the report

The IFV Working Party will assist the Government to set up a working
group within Government with appropriate representation from its
agencies to implement action plans agreed by the IFV Working Party and

I return to this in the next section of my essay. The fourth recommendation was never taken
up and I must question why. Were government agencies too afraid to confront the suffering
of the Aboriginal community by supporting a project that would enable a creative arts and

cultural event that would present to the public the story of ya pulingina kani in drama,
music and dance? Might this still not be a wonderful event for understanding and healing?
Following Bacchi’s WPR approach, “aiming to understand policy better than policy makers
by probing the unexamined assumptions” disclosed through yapulingina kani (Bacchi 2009,
p. 22), I have so far opened up the problem of Aboriginal family violence, raised
presuppositions and assumptions that might have been gathered during later policy-making,
and shown how ya pulingina kani came first to represent the problem. The next Bacchi
question is to ask where the silences around the problem lie. This takes me into describing
what I perceived to happen when I was Senior Policy Analyst with the OAA at the time.
Women Tasmania at the time were working on a mainstream policy for domestic violence
and though excited about ya pulinigina kani, their policy making was taking precedence. In
their views policy ought to be the same for everybody in all sectors of society. ya pulingina
kani, so to speak, took a back seat.
In the years 2004-2008 the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) continued to
conduct trials in the Northeast of Tasmania including Bass Strait islands to set up
“Government partnerships with the Aboriginal Community in Tasmania” towards “building a
stronger community to overcome family violence” (2005).
Tracing further policy-making one finds the Tasmanian Family Violence Act passed in 2004
with its current version 2017, Tasmania Family Violence Policy Framework, in Responding to
Family Violence: A Guide to Service Providers (2010-11), and the most recent version of Safe
Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania’s Family Violence Action Plan 2015-2020. In these most
recent documents, the policy and strategy outlines for addressing domestic violence has
Indigenous, not “Aboriginal” family violence lined up with the same value as policy for
women aged 18-24, women with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically
diverse backgrounds—despite the given statistic that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
women are 35 times more likely to hospitalised due to family violence related assaults than
other women. This represents in Bacchi’s terms a silencing of the real problems—of the
stories, of the possibilities for healing, and of ways to preserve dignity and building
community strength.
This leaves the question by Bacchi, in what ways might the problem of Aboriginal family
violence in Tasmania be articulated again, disseminated and defended, and how might
current policy be “questioned, disrupted and replaced” (2012, p.2)? Investigating the
discourse which has contributed to policymaking for keeping Aboriginal families safe leads
to understanding “how this particular reality has become known and could be acted upon”
(Dunn and Neuman, 2018, p.3). This is a discourse that can never be “closed, static, and
stable”. It remains “open-ended and incomplete” (ibid.). This essay has been tracing back to
the earliest state-funded research to the roots or history of the current problem, following
“twists and turns”, permitting us to see that the problem of family violence is always “under
scrutiny, contingent and susceptible to change” (Bacchi, 2012, p.10). This method of
discourse analysis has hence been suitable for gaining insight into the “problem represented
to be” (Bacchi, 2014, 2018) in the policy.


Bacchi, C 2012, Introducing the ‘What’s the Problem Represented to be?’ in A.
Bletsaas and C. Beaseley (eds), Engaging with Carol Bacchi:Strategic Interventions and
Exchanges, University of Adelaide Press, retrieved from
Bacchi, C 2009, Introducing the ‘What’s the Problem Represented to be?’ approach, in
Analysing Policy: What’s the Problem Presented to be? Frenches Forest: Pearson,
pp1-24, retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy-
Domestic Family Violence Policy 2016, Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC), retrieved
Dunn, KC & Neuman IB 2016, Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences, in Undertaking
Discourse Analysis for Social Research, University of Michegan Press, retrieved
Government Partnerships with the Aboriginal Community in Tasmania: Building a
Stronger Community to Overcome Family Violence 2005, An Interim Report
of the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) in Northeast Tasmania.
Mellor, D 2003, Contemporary Racism in Australia: The experiences of Aborigines,
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April, Vol 29 No 4, Sage Publications
Pugh, R 2002, ya pulingina kani—Good to see you talk, Hobart, Office of Aboriginal
Affairs, retrieved from
Safe Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania’s Family Violence Action 2015-2020, Hobart,
Tasmanian Government, retrieved from
Tasmanian Family Violence Act 2004, retrieved from
Tasmania Family Violence Policy Framework, in Responding to Family Violence: A
Guide to Service Providers, Hobart, Tasmanian Government, retrieved from

To what extent will Medically-Supervised
Injecting Centres (MSICs) minimise drug-
related injuries in Victoria?
Joshua Ball

Executive Summary
This policy analysis primarily evaluates the effectiveness and extent of which the policy to
introduce a medically-supervised injecting centre (MSIC) in Richmond will reduce drug-
related injuries. This is complemented through the analysis of the ‘problem’ attempting to
be alleviated by the policy, and how it can be perceived differently. Research of policy
documents, peer-reviewed journals and articles, media outlets, and government statistics
are relied upon in an attempt to arrive at a credible conclusion with reliable
recommendations. Such sources of information permit further analysis into the
effectiveness of the policy and possible substitutes. Through research and evaluation, it was
found that the policy would be effective in preventing the number of drug-related injuries
endured by drug-users while also greatly benefitting the wider community through the safe
disposal of needles and reduction of crime. However, it is suggested that procedures to
prevent the causes of drug abuse, such as social problems and homelessness, would better
address drug-related injuries, and should be considered as either a replacement or addition
to the MSIC solution. The report also acknowledges that there are limitations within the
policy analysis. Since MSICs have never been implemented in Melbourne, data and
resources reflecting on its effectiveness within the region are absent. Data and results from
MSICs in other locations, such as Sydney, are referenced and analysed. Consequently, many
predictions on the effectiveness of a MSIC in Melbourne are provided within the conclusion
of the report, however founded on reliable sources.

A medically-supervised injecting centre (MSIC) is summarised by the Australian Alcohol and
Drug Foundation (2018) as a place where ‘people can use drugs under the supervision of
medical staff and health professionals. Witnessing the highest concentration of people
fatally overdosing in 1999 within Australia, Sydney introduced a medically-supervised
injecting centre (MSIC) after much deliberation. After opening in Kings Cross in 2001, the
positive results have encouraged discussions about the further introduction of injecting
centres in the suburbs of Melbourne more than 16 years later (Uniting n.d.).
The Victorian Government has confirmed that it will conduct a two-year medically-
supervised injecting centre trial within the ‘heroin hotspot’ of North Richmond in late 2018.
The results of the trial will be the determinant of whether a long-term MSIC will be viable
and effective for the surrounding area. This comes in conjunction with tougher penalties for
drug traffickers (Willingham 2017). While illegal drugs will not be provided at the MSIC,
narcotics ranging from heroin to ice will be permitted for entry (Cunningham 2018). The
policy is a part of a $87 million drug rehabilitation plan, which includes the delivery of


rehabilitation facilities and beds to counter the increasing usage of heroin and ice. There will
also be later provision to extend the trial for three years (Willingham 2017).
This policy analysis addresses the implementation of medically-supervised injecting centres
and questions the extent of which it minimises drug-related injuries. While focused within
Victoria, this analysis will also refer to external cases for the purpose of comparison and
evaluation of other similar policies. The reasoning behind this particular approach to
tackling drug-related injuries is to be explored; particularly the ‘problem’ which it would be
addressing which is a key component to the discourse analysis. As an alcohol and illicit drug
policy, a number of questions pertaining to its conception and consequent effects will be
investigated, including:
 What ‘problem’ is the policy addressing? Where has this representation come from?
 How can the ‘problem’ can be thought about differently? How can it be replaced?
 What other views of the problem have materialised and how have people responded to
 Why medically-supervised injecting centres (MSICs)?
 Importantly, to what extent will this reduce drug induced harm?
 What implications may this have on the wider community?

Method of Analysis
Primarily, the discourse framework of analysis will be employed, where the core ‘problem’
will be particularly highlighted. The way the ‘problem’ is represented in the policy ‘carries all
sorts of implications for how the issue is thought about and for how the people involved are
treated, and are evoked to think about themselves’ (Bacchi 2009, p. 1). Investigation of the
‘problem’ is vital, as it highlights the cultural values currently associated with society, and
provides insight into the formation of the policy. Loosely following Carol Bacchi’s discourse
framework, the assumptions underlying the representation of the ‘problem’ will be
identified. Additionally, the factors being left unproblematic by the representation will be
assessed alongside the ‘silences’. The effects of the representation will also be evaluated.
Enforcing elements of a comparative analysis, the MSIC policy will be compared to other
policies and perceptions of the ‘problem’ employed from across Australia and the world.
Hence, ‘problem’ and policy replacements will be considered. Furthermore, ‘societies
construct and attach meanings and values to the material world around us’ (Dunn &
Neuman 2016). Resultantly, the values society attaches to the ‘problem’ of drug-use and the
subsequent solutions will be investigated, allowing the development of the understanding
to why the MSIC policy appears to be an effective resolution. It will further enable us to
‘make sense of the world and act within it’ in terms of the values and meanings emphasised
by the policy (Dunn & Neuman 2016).

The ‘Problem’ of Drug-Related Injuries and Death

As all policies desire to solve a problem presented within society, they often contain
‘implicit problem representations’ (Bacchi 2009, p. 2). The policy to introduce a medically-
supervised injecting centre in Richmond seeks to reduce the number of drug-related deaths
and injuries. Prioritising the concept of public health, it presents the problem that there are
too many drug-induced fatalities in Victoria. According to the Victorian Government’s Drug
Statistic Handbook (2012, fig. 1.0), within the 5-year period between the beginning of 2003
and end of 2007, all drug-related deaths remained stagnant at roughly 5,000. Figure 1.0 also
measures the estimated years of life lost (YLL) due to premature drug deaths. While total

deaths were not increasing, in 2007 the estimated 5,012 drug-related fatalities accounted
for a substantial 15% of all deaths in Victoria (State Government of Victoria 2012, p. 27-8).

Figure 1.0: Drug-Related Deaths from 2003-2007 in Victoria (ABS 2007)

Therefore, due to the high proportion of drug-related death in Victoria, the state
government seeks to prioritise the preservation of public health. However, through what is
considered ‘stage 3’ of Sydney’s MSIC process, clients of the centre receive referrals for
‘specialised treatment for addiction’ alongside other types of counselling (Jauncey 2017).
Consequently, while the policy primarily seeks to reduce the number of injuries it also
desires to reduce the overall consumption of drugs. Although, without any binding terms or
strict supervision, this goal can be overlooked and challenged.

How the Problem Can Be Thought About Differently and Replaced

Attempting to address the problem, the policy makes a number of assumptions about MSICs
and drug-users in the process. This includes that overdosing and drug-abuse is the sole
cause of drug-related injury, as opposed to other mental burdens. The policy presumes that,
in an attempt to lower the drug-related death count, it is solely essential to provide
supervision of injections and addiction treatment. Such a policy is out of the scope of
addressing the initial possible causes for drug abuse and assumes many factors to be
‘unproblematic’. Catherine Spooner from the NSW National Drug and Alcohol Research
Centre (1999) identifies risk factors for drug abuse by adolescents which includes
‘personality traits that reflect a lack of social bonding’, ‘low quality family relationships’ and
‘failure at school’. Such causes of drug abuse can result in long-term addiction, resulting in
further financial, mental, and physical troubles (Lifeline Australia c. 2016). An emphasised
focus on the prevention of initial drug-use could be a way to reflect differently on the
problem and could potentially further reduce drug-related injuries. Additionally, a RMIT
University report declares that ‘substance use and mental illness are actually the effect of
becoming homeless for the majority of the city's homeless’ (Cooke 2007). Craig Fry (2011)
questions whether it would be more effective to ‘bolster prevention’ that addresses
‘upstream’ determinants of drug-use rather than the ‘downstream impacts’. Overall, social
and economic factors can affect health indirectly by ‘shaping individual drug-use behaviour’
(Galea & Vlahov 2002). Such silences in the representation of the problem should not be
overlooked to ensure long-term success in reinforcing public health.

According to the current state government’s representation of the problem, the policy
appears to adopt a non-hostile approach to dealing with drug-users. As opposed to viewing
them as criminals, the policy seeks to invite drug-users into using their narcotics within a


safe environment. Philip Mendes (2002) compares various competing discourses in illicit
drug policies. The American and Swedish ‘zero-tollerance’ approach to drug policy has
endured to be more ‘prohibitionist’ than the Australian counterpart. The United States
perceive ‘drug-use narrowly as a criminal and moral issue, rather than one of public health’.
However, harm minimisation policies, such as the implementation of MSICs, can be viewed
as encouraging drug abuse, and can potentially result in a slippery slope towards drug
legalisation (Mendes 2002, p. 141). These two different viewpoints have resulted in vastly
different drug policies and, although essentially arising from the same issue of drug abuse,
just perceive the treatment and values of the problem differently. Reflective of Richmond’s
MSIC policy, much of Australia believes that we can no longer ‘arrest and imprison our way
out of problems regarding illicit drugs’ (Duff 2016).

Consequently, the policy problem can be thought about from a ‘prohibitionist’ point of
view; where drug-use must be heavily policed and criminalised in an attempt to deter
individuals. Juxtaposed with the MSIC policy, which prioritises overall public health through
attempting to reduce the possibility of death by injection. However, the silences in the
representation of the problem, which includes the initial causes of drug abuse, such as low-
quality family relationships and homelessness, should not be avoided if the state
government wishes to ensure good long-term public health conditions.

So Why Medically-Supervised Injecting Centres?

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews supports the idea of a MSIC in Richmond with the ‘jump
in the number of overdoses’ showing that the previous rehabilitation approach was no
longer working (Willingham 2017). To Andrews, it was evident that a solution was required
that would ensure safety from an overdose while also being inviting to those who utilise
narcotics. Columnist Matt Noffs (2015) declares that the ‘brave decision’ to open a MSIC in
Sydney has paid off; with zero deaths on the premises since it first opened 14 years ago.
According to a study by KPMG (2010), ‘nearly all [drug-users] reported that since coming to
the MSIC they now inject more safely (97%) and have reduced injecting in public (96%)’.
Furthermore, a survey conducted between 1999-2000 attempted to investigate the
willingness of drug-users to utilise MSICs in conjunction to the additional rules and
limitations policy-makers desire: 89% were willing to use MSICs who were largely
undeterred by additional rules such as hand-washing, close supervision, and bans on pill
injecting (Fry 2002). MSICs thus appear like a more viable option to the public, with previous
drug laws such as prohibition that, while aiming to protect the well-being of Australians,
increased ‘deaths, disease, property crime, violence and corruption’. Prohibition failure was
evident in the ‘rate of heroin overdose deaths in Australia increasing 55-fold between 1964
and 1997’ (Wodak 2015). Evidently, drug-users feel more comfortable in MSICs while also
having a significantly reduced risk of harm compared to previous policy initiatives. This also
supports the concept of a ‘public health’ focus as opposed to one that has ‘zero-tolerance’
towards drug utilisation (Mendes 2002). Overall, the idea of good public health and the
elimination of drug-related fatalities appears to be embraced through the policy; with MSICs
appearing attractive to drug-users and the positive impacts that they have yielded within
Sydney being further supportive.

Overall Positive Impacts on the Community
The policy of introducing a MSIC in Richmond is predicted on having multiple positive
impacts on drug-users. Studies conducted on the effectiveness of MSICs within both Sydney
and Vancouver evidenced that such facilities were closely associated with the decrease in
unsafe injecting practices, such as syringe sharing (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs
and Drug Addiction 2015). ‘Positive changes in injecting practices’, including use of sterile
water, less needle reuse and safe syringe disposal could consequently prevent the spread of
‘infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C’ (Stoltz et al. 2007, p. 35). The MSIC policy
also prides itself on giving medical advice alongside referrals; where drug-users may enter
either a rehabilitation program or seek advice. According to the Salvation Army (n.d.),
between May 2001 and April 2006, Sydney’s MSIC made 5,380 referrals for drug treatment,
with further health care and social welfare services being provided to 1,461 clients.

The introduction of a MSIC in Richmond is predicted to not only reduce self-inflicted harm
due to drugs but also benefit the wider community through reducing drug-related crime and
the presence of used needles. Dr Matthew Dunn asserts that there is ‘evidence to suggest
that safe injecting rooms may reduce drug-related crime in areas where they operate’,
alongside the decrease of ‘drug-related paraphernalia’ in public areas (Dunn & Miller n.d.).
To elaborate, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation of Australia (2017) indicates that there has
been ‘no increase in crime in the Kings Cross area’, and that the amount of ‘publicly
discarded needles and syringes halved in Kings Cross after the opening of a MSIC’. Such
results ensure public health for not only drug-users but for the wider community, who may
otherwise be susceptible to contact with dirty needles or victims to drug-induced crime.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Through utilisation of a discourse framework with elements of a comparative analysis, the
investigation of the ‘problem’ has been emphasised. Analysing how the perception of the
‘problem’ has materialised, it was found that public health appeared to be the cornerstone
of the problem and policy: Attempting to reduce the number of drug-related deaths and
injuries through the supervision of drug-use. Comparing this perception of the ‘problem’ to
that of the United States and Switzerland, Victoria and New South Wales were seen to
reject the zero-tolerance approach in favour of a friendlier and less judgemental method.
Sydney’s MSIC was thus evidenced in attracting drug-users, while also drastically reducing
the number of overdoses in the area. With zero deaths within the facility alongside evidence
supporting the vast benefits to the wider community, the policy to introduce a MSIC in
Richmond is given significant precedence. In conclusion, the policy to introduce a MSIC in
Richmond would predictably reduce drug-related injuries significantly while also ensuring
the safety of the community. However, the policy may appear to overlook many factors that
cause drug-use. These ‘silences’ should be further evaluated with the representation of the
problem being looked at from a more preventative perspective. Perhaps limiting initial drug-
use may provide greater benefit to long-term public health. Thus, it is recommended that
the MSIC policy is further enforced alongside initiatives seeking to prevent the initial stages
of drug-use to ensure heightened effectiveness towards minimising drug-related injuries.


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retrieved 26 May 2018,

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April, retrieved 26 May 2018,

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University, retrieved 27 April 2018,

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– Drug consumption rooms: an overview of provision and evidence, retrieved 26 May 2018,

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implications for uptake’, International Journal of Drug Policy, vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 471-476,
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retrieved 27 April 2018,

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the politics of visibility’, in Policy Worlds: Anthropology and Analysis of Contemporary
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treatment’, Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 453-475, retrieved 26 May 2018,

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2011, Report Number 14, retrieved 25 May 2018,

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Josh Ball

Joshua is a second year Bachelor of International

Studies/Bachelor of Commerce student majoring in
Economics alongside Politics and Policy Studies.
Having the opportunity to travel to countries such
as England and study in China, Joshua has
developed a strong interest in international trade
and relations further complemented by a passion
for foreign policy. Possessing particular interest in
domestic health and education policy, Joshua
desires to pursue a career in the public sector with
a drive to enact positive change across the country
through carefully considered economic action.
Being involved in the administration of the Deakin
Commerce Students’ Society (DCSS) and
participating in a solar panel implementation
project, Joshua strives to challenge himself while
also finding ways to impact the wider community in a positive manner.


In pursuit of ‘jobs and economic growth’,
is Australia’s 2018-19 budget plan a wise
approach generating growth, prosperity
and guaranteeing the security of
Australia’s future?
Josh Cook

For this analysis, economic policy will be examined. This policy analysis will address the
current economic policy put forward by the coalition government (the 2018 budget). While
the coalition government have grounded their brand in being ‘responsible economic
managers’, the current budget has been criticised for relying too much on the economy’s
prospective performance to support generous reforms and spending (Dixon 2018). This
essay analysis will examine key areas of the budget and will determine whether they are
appropriate priorities – and the best way forward – to guarantee Australia’s prosperity and
ensure the long-term needs of Australia are met. Specifically, this essay will attempt to look
at key changes to the tax system, infrastructure investment and defence spending. This
policy analysis employs an external analysis approach to critically evaluate intended
outcomes (economic prosperity) with evidence and determines whether the policy is likely
to be successful based on critical evaluation.

Reforming Income and Company Tax – A Fair, Affordable, and Stimulating Long-Term
Economic Strategy? An overview
The coalition government outlines that the current tax system will undertake a three-tier
reform; first by introducing a four-year Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO) in 2018-
19, second by tackling ‘bracket creep’ (reducing tax liability) by extending the 32.5 per cent
tax bracket (from $37K to $41K) and the 37 per cent tax bracket (from $90K to $120K) in
2022-23, and finally by abolishing the 37-cent tax bracket in 2024-25 (Janda 2018). These
reforms aspire for a ‘fairer and simpler tax system’ (Janda 2018); they aim to achieve
growth, reward and incentivise hard work, reduce bracket creep, and ensure cost of living
pressures are manageable for low to middle income earners.

The following graph outlines the tax savings under the 2018 budget plan:
Income Tax Savings – Over Phases Two and Three

Income Tax Reform to Favour High-Income Potential?

Based on the table outline, it appears that there is some economic benefit for all income
earning Australians – which certainly is the case. However, it is argued that by reforming tax
rates at the bottom, it primarily benefits those in the middle and at the top, thus, the
‘fairness’ that is inherent of a ‘progressive tax system’ is compromised (Janda 2018).

Despite the benefit of the LMITO, as the budget plan progresses to the second and third
phases, wealthy Australians appear to benefit more. In the second phase (as outlined in the
‘income tax savings table’), those who earn above $120K will pocket over $2K in tax savings,
contrasted by those earning up to $35K only receive a benefit of $200. In the third phase, by
removing the 37-cent tax bracket, it creates a large tax bracket (32.5 percent for those
earning between $41K and $200K) – thereby enabling a ‘flatter tax system’ (Gittins 2018).
The numbers appear to skew in favour of high-income earners, where any earnings up to
$200K over $7K is added to the annual income (Irvine 2018). Thus, with these reforms
poised to benefit high-income earners with more tax relief, they are expected to exaggerate
the effects of income inequality in the long-term (Gittins 2018).

Income Tax Reform for Incentive and Reward – Supporting Economic Growth, High
Productivity, and Financial Welfare
On the contrary, it is perhaps important to consider changes to the tax system within the
context of the strategic intention of government. Instead of thinking of the proposed tax
system in terms of immediate change that makes high-income earners wealthier, it can be
thought of in terms of strategy (Benson 2018). The second and third phases focus on
extending and broadening income thresholds – allowing tax relief and financial reward for
Australians who have earned a position in high-skill employment (Liberal Party 2018). The
objective of the reforms to income tax is not to make the rich Australians even richer, but
instead, incentivise the Australian work force to work hard and climb up the tax bracket


(Benson 2018). Based on neoliberal and free market principles, these personal tax incentives
would lead to an increase in productive output for the economy (Barnes, Humphrys & Pusey
2018, pp. 10). Thus, tax incentives can encompass positive behavioural flow-off effects
which generate higher returns in the long-term (Barnes, Humphrys & Pusey 2018, pp. 10).
If one further considers this tax reform within the context of the government’s ‘boarder
economic plan’, the government intends to invest and create high-skilled jobs – focused in
science and innovation – across the public and private sectors (Liberal Party 2018).
Coinciding with this economic plan, the proposed tax system aspires to incentivise and
reward these lines of work, increase productivity in these areas, and diversify the overall
income aspects of the economy (Stokes 2017, pp. 6) – ensuring financial security, resilience
and increased prosperity. Ultimately, it is the government’s intention for everyone to be
better off and more skilled under this plan (Liberal Party 2018). Considering this evidence,
this analysis supports the reforms to income tax reform.

Lowing Company Tax to Stimulate Growth – A More Dynamic, Robust, Prosperous

Corporate Australia? An Overview
The coalition government also proposes to lower company tax (from 30 percent to 25
percent) (ATO 2018); the tax cuts follow a progressive nature, where the in proposed bill,
corporate tax cuts only come into full effect until 2026-27 (ATO 2018). The aim of these tax
cuts is to stimulate growth, investment in innovative projects, and remain competitive to
encourage foreign investment (Liberal Party 2018).

Progressive Company Tax Plan from the Proposed Budget 2018-19

(ATO 2018)

Trickle-Down Economics Against the Interests of Australian Society?

The greatest argument against reducing company tax is the lack of confidence in wealth
being passed down to workers and low-income earners. Instead, it is believed that financial
gains would remain at the top – benefiting those in positions of privilege and power. The

shadow treasurer outlines that Australia has seen uninterrupted economic growth for the
last 25 years at the current company tax rate (30%) (Probyn 2018). By lowering the company
tax rate, Australia would see a significant loss in revenue that could have been focused into
education, health, and welfare – all which also contribute economic growth via wealth
distribution (Probyn 2018).

There is also evidence to suggest that lowing company tax would damage the share market.
Lowing company tax would effectively devalue the imputation credit system (ICS) (Dixon
2018). In this system, shareholders are awarded a tax credit on profits that have been
distributed after a company tax (Dixon 2018); it ensures that shareholders aren’t paying tax
twice on income received from dividend pay-outs (Dixon 2018). Lowering company tax
would effectively devalue these tax credits as less profit is taxed to award as a credit –
thereby devaluing the net personal income at the end of each financial year (Dixon 2018).
In this regard, lowing company tax would only be beneficial for foreign investment as they
don’t pay income tax, and skip over the ICS (Stokes 2017, pp 5). Rather, tax cuts would
adversely affect local investors in the short-term who rely on the ICS for income stability
(Stokes 2017, pp. 5). Thus, little trickle-down benefit would be awarded to local investors;
therefore, tax cuts are against the interest of local investment (Dixon 2018).

The Progressive Company Tax System – A Responsible Approach to Stimulating Investment

and Prosperity?
There is a strong focus on the benefits of cutting company tax, where the most prominent
argument contends that reducing company tax means that the government will increase
revenue in the long-term through investment in innovation and jobs (Lesh 2018). According
to tax modelling by KPMG, company tax is thought to be the most burdensome tax on an
economy, where, for every dollar raised in company tax, there is 40 cents less in economic
activity (2010); this is largely because – in an increasingly competitive environment –
company tax discourages investment, and dislocates economic activity. This is
predominantly attributed to the ‘highly mobile’ nature of a company’s capital;
consequently, investment capital can be moved to a tax haven with a lower rate and
Australia loses revenue (KPMG 2010). Increasing company tax increases the required pre-tax
rate of return – leading to a fall in foreign investment (KPMG 2010).

In recent historical data, when Australia’s company tax was cut from 36 percent to 30
percent between 2000 and 2002, tax revenue stabilised and increased at an exponential
rate (Lesh 2018). Initially, tax revenue stabilised at $28 billion, then increasing to $42 billion
in 2005, and then $60 billion in 2007 – as depicted in the table below (Lesh 2018).


(Lesh 2018)
While this occurred at the time of a mining boom, the economic principles are the same: tax
cuts lead to an increase in revenue in the long-term (Lesh 2018). Even outside a period of
increased economic activity (mining boom), lowering company tax as seen an increase in
government revenue, as depicted in the following Laffer Curve from years 1988-2002
(KPMG 2010):

(KPMG 2010)
Thus, there is compelling evidence which suggests that a reduction in company tax will
benefit Australia in the long-run. Contrary to more aggressive approaches to lowering
company tax in other nations, the coalition government has employed a ‘progressive’ tax
reduction plan, where changes aren’t implemented immediately, rather, tax cuts are spread
out over time (Liberal Party 2018). In times where Australia is experiencing a lack in financial
growth (compared to the past), this approach helps to remain competitive globally and
maintains the revenue required for the needs of Australia at present (Barnes, Humphrys &
Pusey 2018, pp. 9).

Considering the evidence presented, this analysis supports the proposed reform to lowing
company taxes.

Significant Investment in Infrastructure – Set to increase Economic Activity?

Infrastructure – High Maintenance Costs and Out-Dated on Completion?

In 2018-19 budget, the Australian government has proposed to spend $75 billion on
infrastructure over the next ten years. While citizens often welcome proposals for new

infrastructure and public goods, often there are increased costs with maintenance
associated with infrastructure (Niculescu et al. 2014, pp. 115). These costs often accumulate
in the long-run and become the most burdensome when there has been over-investment in
infrastructure; this is particularly worsened after major projects are completed (Haynes
2010). Since opening in 1932, the annual cost of maintaining they Sydney Harbour Bridge is
approximately $11 million (Haynes 2010).
Assuming this has been the regular maintenance cost for the past 86 years, the cost to
maintain the bridge (to date) approaches $1 billion. The high costs are attributed to routine
repainting (to prevent rusting), and structural maintenance (Haynes 2010). Compared to
modern infrastructure, these costs are unique to bridges constructed in the same time-
period; the Sydney Harbour Bridge (while iconic), is costly and out-dated (Haynes 2010).
Perhaps the greatest concern on infrastructure spending is determining whether it will be
useful and generate a return on investment; when governments saturate an area with
infrastructure, it bears little economic benefit (Niculescu et al. 2014, pp. 120).

Infrastructure for the Future – Strategic Planning, High Investment Returns, Alleviating
When closely examining the proposals for infrastructure (such as upgrades to the Monash,
and the new Sydney subway project), they appear to be needs-based to alleviate pressure
and cater toward future growth. Infrastructure that responds to anticipated growth is
thought of in terms of strategic urban planning (Brown 2015, pp. 68). Such infrastructure
encompasses benefits for the community and for the nation in terms of convenience,
improved standards of living and economic activity (Cadot et al. 2006, pp. 1142). While $75
billion is a substantial amount over the next decade, most the funds are allocated to major
cities and urban areas (Australian Government 2018a) – as depicted in the graphic below:

(Australian Government 2018a).


With a growing population, strain on Australia’s four major cities, and increasing longevity
for Australian Citizens, infrastructure investment is much-needed, and is projected to
generate high returns by connecting urban areas to CBDs (Knight 2018); this would connect
the services workforce to critical economic areas. The services economy accounts for 73 per
cent of Gross Value Added (GVA, a measure of economic output) (Macquarie 2018).
Considering the evidence presented, this analysis supports the expenditure investment on

Defence – Facilitates Economic Growth or a Sunken Cost?

Defence Spending – Australia’s Spending Priorities Come with Compromise?

In the public forum, defence spending is a contentious issue, often because it’s perceived as
less money being put towards more useful government services, such as health or
education. As the Australian Government has been following a trajectory of increases to
defence spending in the recent budget, it can be argued that less money is being spent on
other government services, and cuts have been made to other government initiatives – such
as foreign aid (Davies 2018). Compromises to these aspects of government spending can
accumulate in opportunity cost (i.e. greater benefit if resources directed elsewhere) on the
economy in terms of returns on strengthened international relationships, or productivity in
essential government services (Davies 2018). It can be difficult to measure returns on aid
funding, or quantify goodwill or trust (Day & Rimmer 2016); however, the returns exist and
matter if Australia’s interests are to be catered to (Day & Rimmer 2016). Increases in
defence (while compromising elsewhere) can reduce these returns, and, consequently, may
eventuate into negative externalities for Australia – such as international neighbours
perceiving Australia as a threat, deteriorating those relations. Defence spending is perhaps
presents too many compromises to justify its price.

Defence Spending – Economic Benefits for Flow-Off Industries and the Economy Overall?
Despite the drawbacks to making cuts to other essential government services and
initiatives, there are significant economic benefits to spending more on defence. As defence
spending increases overall, or when financial resources are strategically allocated to lagging
state economies, it can stimulate economic activity and improve the long-term prosperity
for the local, state or national economy (Heo & Ye 2016, pp. 790). In recent economic
modelling, an analysis on naval construction projects was conducted.
The findings outlined that there are significant increases to GDP and jobs for dollars spend
on these projects (Thomson 2014); the following table shows these findings:

(Thomson 2014)

Thomson emphasises while opting to manufacture defence projects locally may cost
significantly more, it also encompasses strategic defence advantages, and generates strong
economic returns (2014). A research paper by PWC also agrees; in the case of the $90 billion
shipbuilding programme in South Australia, it is expected the state’s economy will be
boosted by $134 billion over the course of the program, subsequently improving the South
Australian annual household income by $6300 (PWC 2017). In conjunction with the creation
of 15,000 jobs, for every $10m in expenditure, there is an additional $24m to Australia’s
GDP through the shipbuilding programme (PWC 2017). Furthermore, defence spending can
contribute to scientific research, as seen in the Defence Science and Technology program
(DST) (Australian government 2018b). While expenditure reaches around $5.1 billion, DST
projects are forecasted to yield four to five times the value spent ($20 - $25 billion)
(Australian government 2018b).

Considering the budget policy, this analysis concludes that defence spending plays an
important role in securing the prosperity of Australia; thus, for the measureable benefits,
this essay analysis supports defence expenditure. However, it is important to recognise the
serious consequences of inadequately investing in foreign aid or government services
Australians expect.

After considering the evidence presented, this essay analysis finds that the coalition
government’s federal budget is likely to meet its objectives. Thus, the proposed budget
policy will do well in stimulating economic activity; furthermore, the approaches to
achieving this are found to encompass strategic elements that ensure Australia’s prosperity
flourishes, but most importantly, that its prosperity is sustained. This is achieved by
proactively investing in rising industries, creating jobs of the future, and incentivising high
productivity in among the Australian workforce. The innovative reforms to income tax and
company tax concessions are expected to be a significant element in facilitating this growth
through incentive and investment. However, a conservative budget policy like this is not
unfamiliar to Australia; it follows similar principles set by coalition governments of the past.
It could be said that this policy is a symptom of conservative approaches to finance or policy
path dependence. Nevertheless, these economic principles appear to deliver balanced
budgets and a return to surplus as they once did before; following this approach to
economic policy, Australia is destined to reap financial dividends if the budget realises its
full potential with consistent government.

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neoliberalism? Marking 25 years since Economic Rationalism in Canberra', Journal Of
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works, ABC News, retrieved 20 May 2018

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population, ABC News, retrieved 23 May 2018
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Josh Cook
Joshua is completing a double degree in Arts
and Commerce, with majors in Politics and
Policy, Marketing and a minor in Public
Relations. During his time at Deakin, Joshua has
had a rich involvement with the student
community, having served as a peer mentor for
the Faculty of Arts and Education, the Secretary
for the Deakin Golfers’ Association, and is an
active member to the Deakin Commerce
Society. From a young age, Joshua has
maintained an interest in politics, community
environments and business. Joshua’s policy
analysis of the 2019-19 federal budget
determines whether the policy holds as a good
plan in securing Australia’s financial prosperity.
“A good budget determines (relatively) stable
government, supported communities, and
healthy businesses. Budgets are important to
understand because it can steer a country
toward opportunity or dismay. I wanted to
consider the strengths and weaknesses of this policy as an independent plan without getting
too far into ‘left-wing’ or ‘neoliberal’ debates. Budgets are often swiftly made into law, thus,
it’s important to consider the key issues and analyse them. I learned a lot going through the

The past, present and future of Australian
and the United States Abortion Laws: A
comparative analysis between Victoria
and Mississippi
Lauren Van Der Veen

The deliberate termination of pregnancies has been a constant issue that has plagued law
makers in both Australia and the United States. The similarities in culture and legislative
systems provides for an in-depth comparison between the states of Victoria and Mississippi.
The significant issues such as women’s rights, the access to clinics, and the conduction of
clinics enable both the health and criminal context of abortion laws to be extensively

Victorian Abortion Law

Australian abortion law stemmed from England upon colonisation, it was generally accepted
that if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life then abortion was justified (de Costa
2008, p. 10). Currently this area of law is governed by state jurisdictions and the
corresponding legislation. Prior to 2008 Victoria abortion law was ruled by s 65 and 66 of
the Crimes Act. These sections established the punishment for the unlawful acquiring or
administering of an abortion. The issue of what constituted a lawful abortion was discussed
in R v Davidson (Drabsch, T 2005, p. 31). However, these laws have since been reformed.
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 (Vic), (ALRA) made multiple amendments to the Crimes
Act pt. 3. ALRA 2008 (Vic) s 4, allows abortions to be conducted before 24 weeks by a
registered medical practitioner. Also, within this timeframe, registered pharmacists and
nurses have the ability to supply drugs that will cause an abortion (de Costa et al. 2015, p.
107). Section 5 determines that after 24 weeks a registered medical practitioner can
terminate the pregnancy if they reasonably believe in the appropriateness of the abortion
and the woman has consulted one other registered medical practitioner who also believes
in its appropriateness. In determining the suitability, they must have regard to all relevant
medical circumstances this includes but is not limited to the current and future physical,
psychological and social circumstances for the mother and foetus (de Costa et al., p. 107).

Mississippi Abortion Laws

The basic principles of American abortion law are determined by the court system. One of
the earliest cases on record regarding reproductive rights for women, was the Supreme
Court case of Griswold v Connecticut (1965). The unconstitutional nature of a state to
prohibit the use and distribution of contraceptives was a first step in planned parenthood
policy (Chemerinsky & Goodwin 2017, p. 1201). Before further decisions were made,
Mississippi was strictly governed by the law that abortion was only permitted to save the


woman’s life or to terminate a pregnancy resulting from a rape (Linton, P.B. 2017, p. 344).
As of 1972 the United States are now governed by the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v Wade .
A women’s constitutional right to abortion was protected by this decision (Dean, R 2007, p.
126). This precedent allows abortion before the point that a foetus could survive outside of
the uterus, this is the point of viability and is generally 20 weeks (Guttmacher Institute
2018a, para. 4). Subsequent decisions have upheld this principle and expanded upon the
types of restrictions states are allowed to enforce. Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992)
(para. 874) held that restrictions are able to be imposed before viability unless the
constraint creates an ‘undue burden’ on the woman seeking the abortion (Chemerinsky &
Goodwin, p. 1215). This position has since been reaffirmed by the 2016 decision in Whole
Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt (Guttmacher Institute 2018a). Over half the states passed
laws to ban ’partial-birth abortions’ between the years of 1995 and 2000, however, many
were challenged in lower courts (Weitz, & Yanow 2008, p. 101). President Bill Clinton in
1996 and 1997 vetoed two national ‘partial-birth abortion’ bans (Weitz & Yanow). In 2003
George W. Bush signed into law the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. These federal
measures govern the entire nation however Mississippi state government continue to enact
some of the most restrictive measures in the Country (Reuters Staff 2018, para. 1).

Comparison: The Rights of Women

Victoria is governed by the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. This is an
unenforceable piece of legislation designed to assist policy makers in the creation of laws
and regulations (Human Rights Commission n.d.). This charter is reflected within the
reformed laws of Victoria. The particular rights that are exhibited are; right to privacy, right
to health, right to life, and right to equality and to be free from discrimination (Sifris &
Belton 2017, p. 209). The right to privacy has been enabled through ‘safe zones’ (discussed
below) as the Minister of Health identified that ‘women have a right to access these services
without having their privacy compromised’ (Sifris & Belton, p. 114). The federal regulation
of Medicare funding and inclusion of abortion inducing medication on the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Scheme supports the right to health (Sifris & Belton, p. 210). The right to life is
concerned with the rights of the pregnant women, not necessarily the right of the foetus,
and bestows the right to survive pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood (Sifris & Belton, p.
217). This is a point of comparison between the intention of policy makers in Victoria and
Mississippi. Governor Phil Bryant in an interview upon the signing of some very strict laws
stated; ‘I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn
child’ (Reuters staff 2018, para. 3). It is evident that law makers are more concerned with
the rights of an unborn and unviable foetus than the mental, physical and emotional health
of the mother (Reuters staff 2018). Victorian reforms eventuated the right to equality, as
provided that any women no more than 24 weeks pregnant can be granted an abortion
regardless of the circumstances (Rankin, M 2011, p. 40). The decision-making power is much
more a conversation between doctor and patient rather than solely a doctor’s judgement
(Keogh et al. 2017, p. 21).

Mississippi citizens are governed by the Mississippi Constitution which contains a Bill of
Rights, however, none of the rights mentioned above are included in this legislation
(Constitution of the State of Mississippi art 2). However, as the seminal case, Roe v Wade
asserts that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in the United States

Constitution protects a women’s fundamental right to privacy, including her right to decide
whether to have an abortion (National Women’s Law Center 2013, para. 3). Mississippi also
proposed an amendment to the Bill of Rights to alter the definition of ‘person’ to include
‘from the moment of fertilization’, however voters rejected this proposal (Manian, M 2013,
p. 100). The US has also signed many international standards for human rights, however
abortion opposition seem unconcerned that UN members have given them little support
(Dean, R 2007, p. 144).

The Conduction of Clinics

In an attempt to overburden abortion clinics, Mississippi is governed by additional
restrictions known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws (Mercier,
Buchbinder, & Bryant 2016, p. 77). These laws required facilities to make often medically
unnecessary changes that abortion providers struggle to meet due to the additional burden
on resources (Medoff, M 2012). These laws can be differentiated in three categories;
- Special licensing requirements
- Structural and regulatory standards
- Doctor’s requirements (Pieklo, J 2014, para. 11)
These restrictions have included strict regulations such as room size and corridor width
(Guttmacher Institute 2018b, para. 2). This has forced the closure of many clinics including
in Mississippi where only one clinic is in operation (Manian, M 2013, p. 86).

In a point of similarity, both Victoria and Mississippi are both governed by rules regarding
safe zones around abortion clinics. Mississippi is protected by the Freedom of Access to
Clinic Entrances Act 1994, this federal law criminalises violence and obstruction of abortion
clinics (Nunez-Eddy, C 2017, para. 1). More specific laws are inforce within Victoria through
the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Act 2015. Establishing ‘safe
access zones’ of 150 metres creates a security for women’s physical and mental health
(Sifris & Belton 2017, p. 213). As the Minister for Health identified ‘Victorian women have a
right to access legal reproductive services without fear, intimidation or harassment’ (Sifris &
Belton, p. 215).

The Difficulty of Access

Accessing abortion can be a difficult process for women. The 2008 reforms provided less
ambiguity in the law; however, other mitigating factors still effect the ability to obtain
abortions. The average cost of the surgical procedure up to and including 9 weeks is $560,
without Medicare this cost approximately doubles (Shankar et al. 2017, p. 311). The further
along the pregnancy the greater the cost, anywhere from $1500 to $7700 (Shankar et al., p.
311-312). The medication required for a medical abortion is available on the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Scheme (PBS) and costs $38 however fees from doctors can vary from $250-$580
(Sifris & Belton 2017, p. 213).

Funding for Mississippi abortions is constantly under threat. In 2016 the government passed
laws preventing the use of public funds to perform abortions or in affiliation with a provider
of abortion (Center for Reproductive Rights 2016, p. 17). Although, this law was
subsequently struck down in the case of Planned Parenthood Southeast v Dzielak (2016) as
‘every court to consider similar laws has found that they violate [federal law]’ (CFRR 2016, p.


The limited number of abortion clinics is a constant struggle for both Australian and
American women. According to the Guttmacher Institute (2018a) ‘in 2014 99% of
Mississippi counties had no clinics that provided abortion (para. 13). This means that some
women are having to travel in excess of 50 miles in order to obtain and abortion (Dean, R
2007, p. 152). This is because there is only one abortion clinic in the state (Chemerinsky &
Goodwin 2017, p. 1216)

The Future of Abortion Law

Mississippi faces uncertainty when it comes to the future of abortion law, whereas Victoria
has a much stronger and definite stance. The conservative and pro-life views of both
President Donald Trump and leaders of the state jeopardise a women’s right to abortion.
Trump has expressed opinions that Roe v Wade should be overruled (Chemerinsky &
Goodwin 2017, p. 1189). As president he has the ability to appoint and replace Supreme
Court justices with similar views that will overrule the decision if an abortion case comes
before them (Linton, P.B. 2017, p. 341). If this situation eventuates, the majority of women
will be faced with the immediate or imminent illegality of abortion (Dean 2007, p 125).
Before Roe v Wade, it is estimated that over 1 million ‘back-alley abortions’ were conducted
illegally and dangerously (Chemerinsky & Goodwin, p. 1191). In 2012 Mississippi Governor
Phil Bryant stated that the legislation they enacted was an attempt to end abortion in the
state (Reedy, K 2014, p. 11) Women will be faced with the option of obtaining an abortion
illegally or as Trump has said they will have to travel to another state (Chemerinsky &
Goodwin). As Dr Grimes (2014) identified in his book Every Third Woman in America;
‘abortion cannot be legalised out of existence. The tragic experience with Prohibition
underscores this reality’. It is inevitable that abortions will still occur as did the drinking of
alcohol in the 1920’s (para. 6).

This is in contrast to the certainty and assurance provided by Victorian statute. It has been
recommended that the Victorian laws should be implemented throughout Australia (de
Costa et al. 2015, p 111). The modern approach decriminalises abortion and instead
regulates it was a medical procedure and health issue (Macduff, A 2017, p. 8). In order to
change these laws, new ones would need to be passed through both houses of the Victorian
Parliament and receive Royal Assent, which can be a difficult process especially with
contentious issues (Parliament of Victoria 2013). These provide various safeguards for the
women of Victoria that are not available for those in Mississippi.

The Criminality of Abortion

The decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria was ultimately a modern concept that has had
multiple benefits for stakeholders. Regulating the conduction of abortion as a medical
procedure rather than a crime leads to the possible enjoyment of basic rights for Victorian
women (Baird, B 2017, p. 197). Although reforming these laws created a new offence for ‘an
unqualified person to perform an abortion’ and added extra regulations (Baird, p. 201).
However, it has provided more clarity in the law and has left doctor’s less vulnerable to
criminal prosecution (Alstin 2011; de Moel-Mandel & Shelley 2017).

U.S. women are constantly under treat from prosecution that is entrenched within their
society and will continue under the current administration (Chemerinsky & Goodwin 2017,

p. 1236). Recent cases from four women ranging from 2003-2013 have detailed the lengths
that American court systems will go to uphold legislation prohibiting abortion (Chemerinsky
& Goodwin, p. 1236).

Ultimately, Victoria and the entirety of Australia are on the way to decriminalising abortion
and making the issue one of health and wellbeing for the mothers. However, the United
States, in particular Mississippi are heading in the opposite direction. The removal of legal
abortions could result in more dangerous and illegal procurement of abortions for fear of
criminal prosecution. Undoubtedly transforming this issue into a medical issue rather than
one of crime will have substantially better outcomes for women’s health.

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United States Constitution amend XIV

Planned Parenthood Southeast v Dzielak, 3:16-cv-454 DPJ-FKB (2016)
R v Davidson [1969] VR 667.
Roe v Wade,410 US 113 (1972).
Griswold v Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 485-86 (1965)

Lauren Van Der Veen

Lauren is currently studying a double degree of Arts and
Law and is majoring in Politics and Criminology. She
chose the issue of Abortion because as a young woman
it was an area that she was particularly interested in,
due to her own uncertainty. She therefore decided to
research this area, in order to extend her own
understanding and though her research she came across
some interesting findings. The laws in Australia are
different in every state and American laws are even
more confusing. Hence why she chose to compare the
two states of Victoria and Mississippi. Victoria’s
legislation that removed abortions criminal nature in
comparison to Mississippi’s possible transition towards
it, now that Donald Trump is in office. After analysing
this policy area, Lauren feels she has a far better
understanding of rights and restrictions placed on
women seeking an abortion.

To what extent does the National Plan to
Reduce Violence against Women and
their Children 2010-2022 cater to the
needs of Indigenous women, women
from non-English speaking backgrounds
and disabled women?
Loey Matthews

The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022
(referred to in this report as the ‘Plan’) broadly states that “all forms of violence against
women are unacceptable”, yet for Indigenous women, women from culturally and
linguistically diverse (‘CALD’) backgrounds and disabled women, 1 the intersection of
violence with multiple layers of oppression result in less than comprehensive coverage by
the policy. Furthermore, policy at state and federal level regarding housing, police and
access to the justice system, support for women experiencing violence, immigration,
support for Indigenous communities and disabled women is often inconsistent with the
Plan, and in many cases overlooks the needs of vulnerable women entirely.

This report uses discourse analysis (described by Bacchi (2012: 21) as the “What is the
Problem Represented to Be Approach”) to examine the Plan. Bacchi’s framework outlines
six areas of enquiry to understand public policy, as paraphrased below:
1. What is the problem considered to be?
2. What assumptions underpin this representation of the problem?
3. How has this representation of the problem come about?
4. What is left unproblematic or missed in the problem representation?
5. What effects are produced by this representation of the problem?
6. How and where has this representation of the problem been produced,
disseminated and defended? How has it been questioned, disrupted and replaced?

This report will assess the Plan against all of these questions, with the greatest focus on
understanding the problem, the underlying assumptions and what is left unproblematic or
silent in the Plan’s construction of violence against women.

This report recognises that there is an ongoing debate regarding ‘identity first’ language and
‘person first’ language; that is, referring to ‘disabled women’ or ‘women with disabilities’ (Dunn &
Andrews 2015, p. 256) and attempts to use a balance between the two.


Violence against women is defined by the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of
Violence against Women (‘DEVAW’) as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or
is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including
threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public
or in private life”(United Nations 1993). This is a broad definition that takes into
consideration that violence against women is gender-based, and diverse in both its
manifestation and impact. While the Plan acknowledges this definition, and the diversity of
violent behaviour against women, it then moves forward to narrow its focus to that of
domestic violence and sexual assault (Commonwealth of Australia 2010" 1-2). This is
justified within the Plan due to these forms of violence being considered more pervasive
than others, however this reductive focus may overlook violence experienced by the most
vulnerable of women.
In order to understand the reason for the reduction in scope, one must consider the
construction of violence against women over time. Australian women have experienced
disadvantage since the period of colonization, and experience the threat of violence as well
as the reality of it in the home, the workplace and society at large (Chappell et al. 2009:
175). This understanding has not been well recognised – the United Nations Convention of
the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (1979) does not mention violence against
women or the need to be safe. Furthermore, the understanding by policy stakeholders of
the intersection of gender based discrimination with other forms of discrimination,
compounding it and resulting in multiple layers of marginalization as described by Kimberlé
Crenshaw (Crenshaw 1993) remains novel. An intersectional understanding of violence
against women requires that the most vulnerable women are guaranteed the most
protection, which will provide access to less vulnerable groups as a result. The Plan appears
to provide comprehensive cover for all women, working with mainstream services that also
provide specialised services for Indigenous, CALD and disabled women. This places these
vulnerable women at particular risk of having their concerns overlooked.

Measures of success
The Plan has six outcomes that it seeks to achieve, however the measures of success are
generalized based on four surveys – the National Community Attitudes survey, evaluations
of the Respectful Relationships and The Line education programs, the National Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (‘NATSISS’), and the Personal Safety Survey (‘PSS’)
(Commonwealth of Australia 2010). These reports vary in their approach. This means that
stakeholders in the prevention of violence against women, such as police and the justice
system, as well as state and federal governments are not held to account individually.
While the surveys are generally inclusive, with access for speakers of multiple languages,
consideration for people who are unable to access the internet or a landline telephone, the
PSS has some shortcomings for Indigenous and disabled women. The PSS focuses on towns
and cities, which may overlook the voices of Indigenous women in remote communities
(Mitra-Kahn et al. 2016: 19). Women with disabilities may be overlooked due to the survey
not inquiring into the experiences of women with communication disability, and its focus on
households excludes women who live in institutional settings from participating (Dowse et
al. 2016: 348). The PSS is used as the instrument to measure success in three of the six
outcomes of the Plan, although does not measure Indigenous women’s safety, however the
experiences of disabled women is not fully taken into account.

Indigenous Women’s experiences
The Plan’s focus on domestic and family violence and sexual assault results in the neglect
and erasure of other kinds of violence that disproportionately impact women who
experience intersectional oppression. Violence against indigenous women must be
understood in the context of ongoing cultural dispossession, discrimination and oppression
that has worn down family structures and traditional values. Indigenous women are more
likely to experience bi-directional violence with multiple parties engaging in violence,
violence including extended family groups, including intentionally arousing a violent
response from a partner, and wider community violence, including social exclusion, and
family feuds (Mitra-Kahn et al. 2016: 20). This kind of violence often sits beyond traditional
feminist understandings of gendered violence, and remains poorly understood by many
mainstream services (Blagg et al. 2015: 7).
While the plan aims to strengthen the voices of Indigenous women within their community
and society at large, building community capacity and improve access to appropriate
services, with a focus on all initiatives being led by Indigenous communities
(Commonwealth of Australia 2010: 20-1), this is undermined by other government action
which disempowers Indigenous communities, such as welfare quarantining, which places
restrictions on how Indigenous people spend their welfare payments (Services 2018). This
results in further undermining Indigenous women’s confidence in the ability of government
services to understand and assist them in stopping violence, and this is seen in Indigenous
women largely rejecting criminal approaches to family violence, preferring restorative
justice, compared to non-indigenous women who are more enthusiastic about criminal
justice involvement (Nancarrow 2006: 101).
Women from Culturally and Linguistically diverse communities
The Plan’s focus on domestic violence and sexual assault fails to account for the experiences
of women from CALD backgrounds and makes assumptions around the education program
that excludes CALD young people. A CALD woman may not experience physical violence but
may be threatened with deportation. Additionally, CALD women may experience difficulty in
knowing how to request assistance, and when they do it may be difficult for them to access
services that are linguistically or culturally appropriate. While providing linguistically and
culturally appropriate services is more expensive, CALD women are less likely to access
support services if they are not available. Furthermore, when specialized interpreting
options are unavailable, this can lead to interpretation being provided by family and friends,
causing concerns with confidentiality (Pruitt et al. 2017: 344). The Plan does not provide
security in funding support services for women who have experienced violence, and this
lack of certainty places specialised services for CALD women at particular risk (Pruitt et al.
2017: 345). The Plan does acknowledge the need for immigration law to provide women
experiencing violence to have the safety and security of knowing their visa will not be
cancelled (Commonwealth of Australia 2010: 27-8), however in practice the current
legislative framework is overly restrictive, requiring violence to be physical in order to
provide relief (Viegas and Stevenson 2016: 77).
The Plan’s two main instruments for education of young people, Respectful Relationships
education and ‘The Line’ make assumptions about a “one size fits all” approach that often
overlooks the needs and experiences of young CALD people. There is no specialised
approach within the plan for education for CALD young people, which means that young
CALD people often experience the education programs as “something that’s got nothing to


do with our culture” (Pruitt et al. 2017: 346). The evaluation of this education program did
have some focus on cultural factors, however the emphasis here is on Indigenous young
people (Brocque et al. 2014: 18-9) and it appears that the experiences of non-Indigenous
CALD young people has been lost.
Furthermore, the good intentions of supporting CALD women outlined in the Plan are
undermined by the government’s border protection policies, which often engender fear and
result in women not disclosing their experiences of violence as part of their claims for
asylum, often because she may not be interviewed separately from her partner (McPherson
et al. 2011: 331-2). Throughout the process of being assessed as a refugee, women’s
experiences of violence are often interpreted as normal, with a lack of understanding of
trauma and gender relations within women’s country of origin (McPherson et al. 2011: 336-
8). The policy of mandatory offshore detention of asylum seekers also places women at
significant risk of violence; however, the Plan’s focus on some types of violence against
women results in these women remaining vulnerable.

Women with Disabilities

Women with disabilities also experience violence, both through domestic violence and
sexual assault, and more broadly, through abuse in institutions, the withholding of medical
and mobility aids, and the threat of forced sterilization or of having children removed from
their care (Harpur and Douglas 2014: 409). Women with disabilities are at risk of legal
forced sterilization, which may result in additional vulnerability to sexual abuse (Women
With Disabilities Australia ('WWDA') 2013: 51). While the United Nations Special Rapporteur
on Torture recommended that member nations prohibit this practice, the Australian
government continues to support this form of violence (WWDA 2013: 14).
While the Plan does identify that disabled women require specialist services that need to be
improved, it does not recognise the ways that women with disabilities experience violence,
beyond the mainstream construction of domestic violence and sexual assault. This results in
services being designed in an inaccessible way, for example the initial rollout of services
such as the 1800RESPECT help line did not provide text support 24 hours a day, and did not
consider accessibility requirements when making referrals (WWDA 2016: 13-6).

While the Plan is well-intentioned, and has a strong focus on Indigenous women, it has been
written from a place of privilege, without recognizing the ways in which gender-based
violence impact the most vulnerable groups differently, and more severely, than other
groups. The narrow definition of violence against women combine with measures of success
that often ignore women with disabilities and women in remote areas, which results in
further marginalizing women who are already marginalized and experiencing violence.

1. That future plans consider all forms of violence against women rather than focusing
on family violence and sexual assault;
2. That the needs of Indigenous, CALD and disabled women are considered first and
foremost when designing policy regarding violence against women; and

3. Security in funding is essential for ensuring all women are able to gain relief from
violence. Services that provide assistance to women experiencing violence should be
cut as a last resort.


Bacchi, C 2012, 'Introducing the 'What's the problem represented to be?' approach', in A
Bletsas & C Beasley (eds), Engaging with Carol Bacchi: strategic interventions and
exchanges, University of Adelaide Press, pp. 21-4.

Blagg, H, Bluett-Boyd, N & Williams, E 2015, 'Innovative Models in Addressing Violence

against Indigenous Women: State of knowledge paper', Landscapes: State of Knowledge,
vol. 2015, no. 8.

Brocque, RL, Kapelle, N, Meyer, S & Haynes, M 2014, Respectful Relationships Evaluation,
Institute for Social Science Research, Brisbane.

Chappell, L, Chesterman, J & Hill, L 2009, 'Gender and Sexuality Rights', in J Chesterman, L
Hill & L Chappell (eds), The Politics of Human Rights in Australia, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, pp. 154-93.

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by Commonwealth of Australia, Commonwealth of Australia.

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Children 2010 – 2022, by Council of Australian Governments, Commonwealth Government.

Crenshaw, KW 1993, 'Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence
Against Women of Color', Stanford Law Review, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 1241-99.

Dowse, L, Soldatic, K, Spangaro, J & Toorn, Gv 2016, 'Mind the gap: The extent of violence
against women with disabilities in Australia', The Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 51,
no. 3, pp. 341-59.

Dunn, DS & Andrews, EE 2015, 'Person-first and identity-first language: Developing

psychologists’ cultural competence using disability language', American Psychologist, vol.
70, no. 3, pp. 255-64.

Harpur, P & Douglas, H 2014, 'Disability and domestic violence: protecting survivors' human
rights', Griffith Law Review, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 405-33.

McPherson, M, Horowitz, LS, Lusher, D, Di Giglio, S, Greenacre, LE & Saalmann, YB 2011,

'Marginal Women, Marginal Rights: Impediments to Gender-Based Persecution Claims by
Asylum-seeking Women in Australia', Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 323-47.

Mitra-Kahn, T, Newbigin, C & Hardefeldt, S 2016, 'Invisible women, invisible violence:

Understanding and improving data on the experiences of domestic and family violence and
sexual assault for diverse groups of women: State of knowledge paper', ANROWS
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Nancarrow, H 2006, 'In search of justice for domestic and family violence: Indigenous and
non-Indigenous Australian women’s perspectives', Theoretical Criminology, vol. 10, no. 1,
pp. 87-106.

Pruitt, L, Hamilton, G, Heydon, G & Spark, C 2017, 'Abbott’s ‘budget crisis’, CALD women’s
loss? Service providers explore the impact of funding cuts', Australian Journal of Political
Science, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 335-50.

Services, DoS 2018, Welfare Quarantining, retrieved 02/06/2017,


United Nations 1979, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women, <>.

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Nations, New York.

Viegas, K & Stevenson, V 2016, 'Immigration and Family Violence: Family Violence - The
Immigration Law Context', Law Society Journal of NSW, vol. 2016, no. 23, pp. 77-9.

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) 2013, Dehumanised: The Forced Sterilisation of
Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia, Women with Disabilities Austraila, Rosny
Park, TAS.

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) 2016, Improving Service Responses for Women
with Disability Experiencing Violence: 1800RESPECT, Women With Disabilities Australia

Lois Matthews
Lois "Loey" Matthews is a third-year Bachelor of Social Work
student at Deakin University. She has spent more time that
she'd like to admin in contact centre roles, until working her
way to her current role of Forecaster at Telstra. She started
studying Social Work at Deakin in 2016, as she wanted to
focus more on public benefit rather than private profits. Her
interests include welfare policy and advocacy, mental health
and justice for women with disabilities. She lives in Geelong
with her husband and enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons
and hiking in her spare time.

Reducing Harm to Users: Is the
Implementation of Pill Testing and Drug
Consumption Rooms Viable as a Part of
Australia’s National Drug Policy?
Melisa Veijan

This policy analysis will look to Australia’s illicit drug policy, with a particular focus on pill
testing and drug consumption rooms – also referred to as ‘safe injecting rooms’ – as a
means of reducing harm to users. Further, it will analyse the discourse surrounding the two
approaches and whether or not they are appropriate strategies for Australia. The method
utilised to analyse this area will be the discourse method; considering key questions to
scrutinise Australia’s current drug policy and how the two harm reduction methods are
represented in regard to drug use in Australia (Bacchi 2012, p. 21). The two key questions of
focus will be: What the problem is represented to be? And what presuppositions or
assumptions are underlying in the problem representation (Bacchi 2009, p. 2). The analysis
will suggest that attitudes toward combatting drug use in Australia has changed, but still
remains two sided. Briefly, this analysis will consider the success of international policies
and how such approaches linger amongst Australia’s discourse putting the pressure on
Australia follow suit of other countries (Trask 2018). So too, it will look to successful
examples applied in the Australian context to ultimately reach a conclusion on the viability
of the two methods as a part of Australia’s existing illicit drug policy.

By way of definition; Pill testing refers to services which are in place for users to be able to
check the ‘content and purity’ of their drugs (John-Leader et al. 2018, p. 1). Drug
consumption rooms allow the use of drugs with trained staff supervising (Wodak, 2017).
Currently, The National Drug Strategy (NDS) poses a ‘national framework’ which focuses on
‘preventing and minimising’ the harm caused by drug use in Australia (Department of Health
2017 [DOH]). The pillars of the NDS all have a basis of reduction – in regards to demand,
supply and harm (DOH 2017, p.1). There has been one safe injecting room in Australia. The
2001 trial of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross, Sydney, has
dealt with 3,426 ‘overdose-related events’ with no resulting deaths (KPMG 2010, p. ix);
8,508 referrals to other services such as drug treatment (MSIC 2010, p. x); a decline in public
reports of needle sightings (KPMG 2010, p. x) and importantly, an increased knowledge of
blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C (KPMG 2010, p. xi). The success of the
Kings Cross site suggests that such a strategy could be successfully implemented
nationwide, and would coincide with the NDS’ pillars which emphasise harm reduction.
Similarly, a pill testing trial held at this year’s Groovin the Moo festival proved successful

after harmful ingredients were found in the drugs of some of the 128 attendees who chose
to have their drugs tested (Iggulden 2018).

What is the problem represented to be?

The purpose of the two methods is to ensure that there is a minimisation in the risk when
people are already participating in the use of drugs – pill testing works to change the
consumer’s behaviour and possibly stop them from consuming, after realising the content
of their drugs (Barratt et al. 2018, p. 226). Safe injecting rooms operate to ensure that the
practice of injecting drugs is as safe as possible (Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee
1999, p.1 [DCPC]). The two methods suggest that at the forefront of the ‘problem’ is that
drug use is embedded into the culture – particularly youth culture – and thus the
commonality of it requires these methods to work around and not against drug use (Groves
2018, p. 1-2). However, contrary to these harm minimisation methods, policies such as the
Howard Government’s stern ‘zero tolerance’ approach suggests that when dealing with
Australia’s drug problem, enforcement should be at the forefront of policy concerns (Wodak
2004, p. 1); and suggest the problem representation is the focus of eradicating drug use
through reprehension. This is evident when looking to government spending on the drug
policy, which has a heavy focus on enforcement, making up 55% of spending, with 23% for
prevention, 17% for treatment, 3% for harm reduction and 1% on a hybrid of all these
functions (Moore 2008, p. 404). Thus, there is a divide in the discourse as to whether the
two methods are appropriate to use in Australia among the already well-established policies
in place such as the NDS.

Underlying presuppositions or assumptions

In order to understand the implementation of these two methods, there must be a
consideration of the overall context of Australia’s approach to drug policy. While the formal
bodies – such as the state and federal governments – associated with policy making have
had considerable influence on today’s policies, it is clear that the media, lobby groups and
the general public have an impact on what is implemented in Australia (Gunaratnam 2005,
p. 2). The considerable and consistent focus on harm minimisation in Australia for the past
30 years has now come to be flawed and show lack of development (Ritter, Lancaster &
Grech 2011, p. 1). Drug policy is multi-faceted, which requires the participation of many
ministerial areas, including health, law enforcement and social policy (Ritter, Lancaster &
Grech 2011, p. 4); this then, as Bacchi (2009) suggests, evidences that the ‘assumed’
thought underlying the problem in this policy area is a complex one (p. 5).

Legal vs. illegal

More widely, it must also be reminded that drug use and possession across the board,
remains illegal in Australia – with the exception of certain provisions pertaining to cannabis
in some states – this is in accordance with the relevant states’ legislation such as the
Victorian Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act of 1981 and the NSW Drug Misuse
and Trafficking Act of 1985 (Lee & Ritter 2016). Herein lies the assumption that by through
the legal framework, the outcomes of drug policies can in fact differ (Lee & Ritter 2016).
Two legal frameworks that challenge the overall drug policy in Australia, are legalisation and
decriminalisation. Legalisation would work to potentially eliminate criminal networks in the
drug trade, but equally so, would see an increase in drug use (Ritter n.d.). Alternatively,
decriminalisation is seen as more accepted through the reduction of legal consequences of


drug use and possession (Ritter n.d.); it would also work to reduce demands on the criminal
justice system (UNSW 2016, p. 4). The decriminalisation method would work hand in hand
with pill testing and safe injecting rooms – which would make for safer practices of an
already prevalent issue (Connaughton 2016). Overall, the considerable concern for
Australian policy is whether or not the illegality of the drugs themselves, is in actual fact, the
cause of harm (Lee & Ritter 2016); and whether strategies such as pill testing and safe
injecting rooms can help to minimise the impacts of use by removing the ‘illegality’ stigma.

A ‘healthcare’ concern
When considering safe injecting rooms, there is a heavy stigma based around users who
inject drugs such as heroin (DCPC 1999, p. 3); not only this but that such behaviours can
cause harm to the society at large, through needle related injuries, facing users in public
toilets, and drug-related criminal behaviour (DCPC 1999, p. 2). Thus, when looking to the
overall benefit of safe injecting rooms and the multi-faceted policy considerations, it can be
said to have an improvement on areas such as health-care, by reducing costs of infections
such as HIV and Hepatitis C (DCPC 1999, p. 6). In analysing this policy it is clear that there
are underlying areas which are often overlooked when the overarching discussion focuses
on preventative measures rather than the subsequent benefits to be derived from harm
minimisation methods (John-Leader et al. 2018, p. 2).

International considerations and comparisons

Portugal’s drug policy focuses on the human rights of drug users; that they have a right to
health care and to be treated with respect (Berger 2013, p. 217). Further, that the notion of
‘zero tolerance’ and a stringent approach to drug policy will never work (Berger 2013, p.
217). The statistics themselves speak volumes; the rate of overdoses dropped over 85
percent, with a 75 percent drop in the number of heroin users (Kristof 2017). This lends
itself to the idea that methods such as pill testing and safe injecting rooms would operate in
much the same manner – to humanise drug users rather than ostracise them. Similarly, in
the Netherlands, drug and pill testing has been available since the 90s (Brunt & Niesink
2011, p. 621). Again, their outlook accepts that drugs are openly available and thus focuses
on reducing the harmful impacts of drug use (Brunt & Niesink 2011, p. 622). The
Netherlands’ Drug Information and Monitoring System (DIMS) adopts drug and pill testing
as a part of the national policy, and there is a heavy emphasis on providing information to
the drug user (Brunt & Niesink 2011, p. 622). Notably, the DIMS assists in informing
policymaking and helps identify the constantly changing nature of the drug market (Brunt &
Niesink 2011, p. 632). The fact that there is clear evidence internationally that methods of
harm reduction operate effectively within the national policy, emphasises the possible
feasibility of such strategies working in Australia. However, the competing discourse which
fears the encouragement of drug behaviours and giving a false sense of security to users
(Trask & Burgess 2018) may shine the possibility of these policies in a negative light,
particularly when subject to international comparison.

Competing discourse
The Australian National Council on Drugs found that over 82% (of a research sample of 2335
Australians) were in favour of introducing drug testing (John-Leader et al. 2018, p. 2). The
government’s concern, however, is that it may be viewed as encouraging the use of drugs,
which ultimately casts the ‘problem’ representation in a different light to advocate for pill

testing and safe injecting rooms (Lancaster & Ritter 2014, p. 86). It seems as though there is
lack of unity in regards to the implementation – ACT opposition legal affairs spokesman,
Jeremey Hanson, notes the flaws in the pill testing trial and reflects the frustrated police
attitudes, with methods such as pill testing opposing their efforts to try and stop the drug
problem (Trask & Burgess 2018). As noted, there is a large discord between state and
federal governments, wherein there is lack of support for safe injecting rooms from the
prime minister; however, when looking to NSW’s success with the Kings Cross facility,
suggests that there is room for states to exert their powers contrary to federal pressure
(Zampini 2014, p. 983-4). Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, too, has commented on the
value of safe injecting rooms – noting that continuing with the current policy – which
doesn’t seem to be working – is wrong (Willingham 2017). Further, Victorian Chief Police
Commissioner, Graham Ashton and Mental Health Minister, Martin Foley fully support the
trialing of a safe injecting room in Richmond (Willingham 2017).

Is implementation viable in Australia?

The NDS seems to set up the perfect context for pill testing as a result of its emphasis on
‘harm reduction’ (Groves 2018, p. 2). However, there are problems with how to distribute
resources, and the ever-changing patterns and types of drug use (Groves 2018, p.2). Federal
Health Minister, Greg Hunt, notes the clear rejection of implementing pill testing as a part of
commonwealth policy (Trask & Burgess 2018). The clear evidence on where government
spending is focused, that is, law enforcement, highlights inconsistencies with the NDS and
the lack of funds put toward harm minimisation strategies (Moore 2008, p. 411). The policy
debate on whether implementation is viable may hang on the fact that there are flaws in
the central direction of drug policy in Australia (Zampini 2014, p. 980) which is needed in
order to be able to formulate and successfully implement harm reduction measures such as
pill testing and further safe injecting rooms. Notably, ACT Greens Minister and Drug Law
Reform Spokesperson stresses that, pill testing would require no formal change of law –
simply the ‘authorisation of state or territory governments’ (Rattenbury 2018).

When looking to the two methods analysed, drug use is represented to be something that
cannot be prevented but should rather be looked upon with the perspective of harm
reduction – as there are clear indicators to evidence that users will ultimately consume
drugs despite their illegality (Groves 2018, p. 10). However, as examined, major discourse
concerns whether the widespread implementation of pill testing and drug consumption
rooms would lead to encouraging drug use rather than minimising its impacts. Although
measures such as pill testing seems to be in line with policy features of the NDS (Groves
2018, p. 10) the only way Australia is able to effectively and widely implement these policies
is through moving from a ‘war on drugs’ approach to a more harm reduction and health-
focused approach (Groves 2018, p.10). Despite clear and successful examples such as the
Kings Cross safe injecting room and pill testing at Groovin the Moo; whether or not the
nationwide implementation of pill testing and safe injecting rooms is appropriate for
Australia’s national drug policy remains to be seen. Ultimately, measures such as pill testing
and safe injecting rooms offers an ancillary method to the already established NDS and drug
policies in Australia, which would work to cover a broad range of policy areas in Australia –
notably, the health care and criminal justice systems (Groves 2018, p. 10). The two methods


do not aim to eradicate Australia’s drug problem, but rather, minimise the impacts through
a pragmatic approach (Groves 2018, p. 11).

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Melisa Veijan
Melisa is in her third year of Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor
of International Studies. The reason she chose this
particular area for policy analysis is because she has
always been fascinated by drug habits - particularly
those of the younger population - and policies
surrounding drug use. She believes that Australia’s
drug problem is something that has struggled to see
much improvement in the past due to the type of
methods being implemented. Pill testing and safe
injecting rooms are something that she believes - with
the right tools, support and ongoing development -
have real potential to minimise the harm associated
with drug use.

Does Breed-Specific Legislation Effectively
Reduce Injuries Caused by Dogs?
Nick York

This paper will use the internal policy analysis method to analyse whether or not Breed-
Specific Legislation in Australia is currently fulfilling its purpose of reducing injuries caused
by dogs. To do so this paper will first discuss the history of Breed-Specific Legislation in
Australia and Victoria and explain why it receives criticism from expert groups. This paper
will then explore statistics from hospitalisations across Australia, as well as within Victoria
specifically, to determine whether the laws are currently reducing rates of injury. This paper
will also explore factors such as owner influence on canine aggression to show that
aggression is heavily influenced by owner personality. Finally, this paper will explore some
recommendations made by experts and touch upon the success Calgary has had at reducing
injuries without banning breeds.

Breed-Specific Legislation
Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) is the common term used to refer to pieces of legislation
governing domestic dogs targeted at specific breeds that have been deemed a danger to
society, and not on a species level. Targeted breeds face stricter laws regarding ownership,
breeding, housing and registration and are often banned.

These laws were introduced in response to public concerns after a series of widely
publicised incidents involving dog related deaths, including a case in 1997 in which a 12-
year-old boy from Melbourne was killed by the family Bull-Mastiff (The Age, 18 April 1997,
p. 5). Concern is often seen both nationally and internationally in the aftermath of serious
injuries and deaths caused by dogs too, which has seen a rise in the number of jurisdictions
enacting some sort of BSL law (RSPCA 2011). These events receive wide media coverage and
has put certain breeds in the spotlight, with further coverage only adding to stigmatisation.
Breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, and pit bull terrier type dogs, have received
such a large amount of media attention that they are now the subject of BSL debate in many
Western countries.

In Australia there are two types of BSL laws, one set determined by the states which sets
forth laws surrounding ownership and restriction of breeds, and the other determined by
the federal government which restricts importation of certain breeds. BSL was introduced to
Victorian law with the Animals Legislation (Responsible Ownership) Act 2001 in December
2001 which imposed strict requirements for ownership of what was deemed “restricted
breeds”. The law defines these restricted breeds as breeds prohibited from importation
under the Commonwealth Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956, the federal
component of Australia’s BSL laws, which restricts the importation of the American Pit Bull
Terrier (or Pit Bull Terrier), the Dogo Argentino, the Fila Brasileiro, the Japanese Tosa and
the Perro de Presa Canario (or Presa Canario), as well as several types of wolf-dog hybrids.


The Cost
Organisations such as the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the Royal Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) have long criticised BSL laws both domestically
and internationally, arguing such laws do nothing to reduce injuries caused by dogs and cost
taxpayers substantial amounts of money each year primarily in legal fees (AVA 2012). In
2012 Monash City Council spent nearly $100,000 across numerous court cases over a single
dog, likewise in 2013 Cardinia Shire Council paid $80,000 defending itself in court trying to
prove a dog was an American Pit Bull Terrier (Schmidt 2014)

Problems with council identification arise from the ambiguous wording used by the
Victorian government in the Standard for Restricted Breeds (Victorian Government 2014)
which details physical characteristics of restricted breeds, however these characteristics are
also shared by other breeds as well. In the case of the American Pit Bull Terrier, the
standard is almost identical to the breed standard for the American Staffordshire Terrier
which makes accurate visual identification extremely difficult and opens councils to long,
expensive legal battles (Voith et al. 2009).

Dog Related Injuries

One way to measure how effective BSL is at reducing injuries and death is through injury
statistics. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) keeps detailed statistics on
injuries caused by dogs across Australia while the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU)
maintains another set of detailed records for just Victoria, both track information such as
victim demography, nature of the injury and in some cases the breed of the dog. However,
these sources rely on hospitalisation and reporting of injuries to gather data, and phone
surveys from Belgium and the USA suggest that dog-related injuries are considerably
underreported (Kahn et al. 2004; Overall & Love 2001).

In the three-year period between 2001 and 2003 there were 6,553 people hospitalised for
dog-related injuries across Australia, an average of 2,177 per year, with children under the
age of 10 and adults over the age of 80 being most of these incidents (AIHW 2005). When
specified, 25.2% of all injuries were recorded to take place at home, while 3.1% were on a
street or highway. This information would suggest that most incidents of dog-related
injuries are caused by a dog that is familiar to the victim and that the victim is likely to be a
child who due to small stature is able to be more seriously injured.

Between 2013 and 2014 there were 3,972 people hospitalised across Australia for dog-
related injuries, a considerable increase from the 2001-2003 yearly average of 2,177 (AIHW
2017). Like 2001-2003 most people hospitalised were under the age of 10 or over the age of
80. During this time the most common place of occurrence for injury was recorded as being
in the home (74%). Two major factors are believed to be contributing to these increases,
firstly Australian population and rate of dog ownership have both risen steadily each year
(ABS 2016) leading to larger numbers of incidents and secondly research has indicated that
an increase in public awareness of the severity of infections caused by dog bites may
increase the likelihood that victims seek medical attention as opposed to treating their
injuries in the home (Broom & Woods 2006).

Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit data from 2005 to 2007 is consistent with AIHW data,
indicating that Victoria follows the national trend showing a 16% increase in injuries from
1999 to 2007 (Cassell & Ashby 2009), however VISU data collection is limited by factors such
as only collecting information on hospitalisations from public hospitals. VISU data showed
that children under the age of 10 and adults over the age of 75 were most likely to be
treated for dog-related injuries, likewise where specified 73% of injuries occurred in the

Information about which dog breed has caused injury or hospitalisation is limited, as
accurate breed identification is not easy and breed information is often not gathered by
hospitals. A study of South Australia injury surveillance data between 2000 and 2002 found
that five breeds of dog accounted for 73% of injuries, with Rottweilers accounting for 20.3%,
followed by German Shepherds at 15.6%, both breeds not the target of any BSL laws in
Australia (Thompson 2004), though some research suggests that these breeds are more
commonly reported than others due to overrepresentation in media reporting (Podberscek

The Human Factor

There have been numerous studies in the past looking at genetic influences on canine
aggression and whether certain breeds are more aggressive than others, largely pointing to
a consensus that breed does not influence aggression. An American group called the
American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) put 25,000 dogs through a standardised test to
assess aggression and other traits associated with aggression such as shyness and stability
and found that pit bull type breeds were more likely to pass temperament testing than
breeds such as beagles, bearded collies and dachshunds (Gladwell 2006) The issue of
understanding the causes of canine aggression and attacks further made difficult to fully
understand as most jurisdictions have a policy of euthanising a dog after it has attacked,
however experts believe this is not the right course of action and instead would rather dogs
that have attacked be assessed by behaviourists and veterinarians in order to better
understand the cause of the attack before euthanasia (Akerman 2017).

The influence of the owner upon canine behaviour is well documented, and this owner-dog
relationship is believed to be one of the main factors for dog injuries. Research has shown
that the exhibited personality traits differ between dogs of the same breed depending on
their purpose, such as show dogs, working dogs or family pets (Svartberg 2006), noting large
differences in key traits believed to be responsible for attacks and injuries such as
aggression, fearfulness and sociability. Likewise, certain breeds have been shown to be
more desirable to certain kinds of people. Pit bull type dogs are often seen as masculine
status symbols desired by typically irresponsible owners (Kaspersson 2008) and one survey
of dog owners in America found that pit bull owners had a criminal conviction rate 10 times
higher than owners of supposed “low-risk” breeds (Barnes et al. 2006).

In submissions to the Victorian Sate Parliament inquiry on BSL in 2015, the RSPCA and AVA
both outlined alternatives to legislation that discriminates against entire breeds of dog in
favour of legislation that emphasises owner responsibility and the behaviour of the
offending dog (AVA 2015; RSPCA 2015). Recommendations such as increased education for
owners and the general public are in line with recommendations from experts


internationally and are believed to be highly effective at reducing the risk of injury
(Chapman et al. 2000). Increased penalties for owners of dogs that have attacked, along
with increased penalties for non-compliance for regulations surrounding registration are
believed to be effective and reasonable measures to encourage owners to comply with

The Future of Breed-Specific Legislation?

The city of Calgary, Canada has received wide praise for its breed-neutral approach to
legislature (AVA 2015), which focuses on stronger investment in education at a community
level and increased penalties for owners of dogs that have been found to have attacked. The
so-called “Calgary model” has seen an 83% reduction in dog related incidents, from 1,988
incidents in 1985 to 340 in 2008 (City of Calgary 2009) despite the city’s population
increasing dramatically in that timeframe (Calgary Economic Development 2016). Not only
have dog incidents gone down, but rates of euthanasia in shelters and pounds has
decreased and lost dogs returned to their owners has increased due to high rates of
compliance with dog licencing and registration (Calgary City Council 2009).

An emphasis on education is believed to be the most effective way to reduce dog related
injuries, especially programs targeted at children as children are typically the most
vulnerable. A study by Wilson, Dwyer and Bennett (2003) found that kindergarten aged
children engaged in many unsafe behaviours around dogs but were more successfully able
to assess risk factors in dogs, including identifying high risk situations, after taking part in a
short dog safety education program. Furthermore, this increased awareness was shown to
last longer when parents also received information about safe behaviour around dogs.

This paper has discussed the effectiveness of Breed-Specific Legislation within Australia,
which has long been a contentious issue amongst animal experts. It has shown that BSL has
been ineffective at reducing dog related injuries for a variety of reasons, as well as cost
taxpayers considerably in legal fees associated with proving a dog is a restricted breed.

Hospitalisation statistics from the AIHW and VISU shows that injuries have increased since
BSL was introduced, suggesting that BSL is not achieving its original purpose. Since 2001
hospitalisations due to dog related injuries have increased across Australia, which is
mirrored in the rise of injuries in Victoria. Furthermore, these statistics show that children
are more at risk of being injured than adults, as well as obtaining more severe injuries to
areas such as the face due to their smaller size, with such injuries being the original triggers
for the introduction of BSL.
This paper has also shown that in addition to there being a gap in knowledge on which
breeds cause more injuries across Australia due to a lack of reporting, evidence has shown
that breeds targeted by BSL such as pit bull type dogs are no more aggressive than other
common breeds in temperament testing. Evidence shows the major contributor to canine
aggression lies with the owner, in which the way the dog is raised and the purpose that it
fulfils heavily affects personality and behaviour.

Finally, this paper discusses some ways in which legislation could be improved to reduce
injuries caused by dogs without banning specific breeds, including recommendations from

expert groups. Education is shown to be extremely effective at increasing awareness of
behaviour signs displayed by dogs, especially when started at a young age, which greatly
reduces the chance of injury. Increasing the penalty for owners of dogs that have attacked
will aid in increasing public responsibility for dog attacks, instead of laying the responsibility
primarily on specific breeds which is ineffective.

Akerman, J 2017, ‘Why dogs bite: local behaviourist talks complexities of dog aggression’,
Regina Leader-Post, retrieved 27 May 2018, <

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2005, ‘Dog related injuries’, AIHW, retrieved 24
May 2018, <

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017, ‘Dog-related injuries Fact Sheet 2017’,
AIHW, retrieved 24 May 2018, <

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retrieved 22 May 2018,

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and regulatory framework’, AVA, retrieved 22 May 2018,

Barnes, JE, Boat, BW, Putnam, FW, Dates, HF & Mahlman, AR 2006, 'Ownership of high-risk
(“vicious”) dogs as a marker for deviant behaviors: Implications for risk assessment', Journal
of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 21, no. 12, pp. 1616-34.

Broom, J & Woods, ML 2006, 'Management of bite injuries', Australian Prescriber, vol. 29,
no. 1, pp. 6-8.

Calgary City Council 2009, ‘The City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services Presentation’,
Calgary City Council, retreived 28 May 2018,

Calgary Economic Development 2016, ‘Calgary: Census 2016’, Calgary Economic

Development, retreived 28 May 2018,

Cassell, E & Ashby, K 2009, 'Unintentional dog bite injury in Victoria: 2005-7', Hazard, vol.
69, pp. 1-24.


Chapman, S, Cornwall, J, Righetti, J & Sung, L 2000, 'Preventing dog bites in children:
randomised controlled trial of an educational intervention', Bmj, vol. 320, no. 7248, pp.

Gladwell, M 2006, 'Troublemakers: What pit bulls can teach us about profiling', The New
Yorker, vol. 81, no. 46, p. 38.

Kahn, A, Robert, E, Piette, D, De Keuster, T, Lamoureux, J & Levêque, A 2004, 'Prevalence of

dog bites in children: a telephone survey', European journal of pediatrics, vol. 163, no. 7, pp.

Kaspersson, M 2008, 'On treating the symptoms and not the cause: reflections on the
Dangerous Dogs Act'.

Overall, KL & Love, M 2001, 'Dog bites to humans—demography, epidemiology, injury, and
risk', Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, vol. 218, no. 12, pp. 1923-34.

Podberscek, AL 1994, 'Dog on a tightrope: the position of the dog in British society as
influenced by press reports on dog attacks (1988 to 1992)', Anthrozoös, vol. 7, no. 4, pp.

RSPCA 2011, Preventing dog attacks in the community – RSPCA Australia information paper,
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, retreived 25 May 2018,

RSPCA 2015, RSPCA Victoria submission to the Inquiry into the Legislative and Regulatory
Framework Relating to Restricted Breed Dogs, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals, retreived 25 May 2018,

Svartberg K 2006 “Breed-typical behaviour in dogs – historical remnants or recent

constructs?” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 96: 293-313

Victorian Government Gazette 2014, Standard for Restricted Breed Dogs in Victoria,
Victorian Government, retreived 26 May 2018,

Voith, VL, Ingram, E, Mitsouras, K & Irizarry, K 2009, 'Comparison of adoption agency breed
identification and DNA breed identification of dogs', Journal of Applied Animal Welfare
Science, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 253-62.

Wilson, F, Dwyer, F & Bennett, PC 2003, 'Prevention of dog bites: Evaluation of a brief
educational intervention program for preschool children', Journal of Community Psychology,
vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 75-86.

Nick York
Nick is currently doing a Bachelor of Psychological
Science, with plenty of Politics electives thrown in,
with the aim of working with animals to help improve
peoples’ lives using assistance and therapy animals. He
chose to his policy analysis on that breed specific
legislation because it has been a controversial issue
since its inception, with experts on both sides of the
fence. After working for several years with dogs, many
of which having a history of reactivity and aggression,
he came to the conclusion that breed specific
legislation was likely to be ineffective and this
assignment him the perfect opportunity to do his own


A comparative analysis between the
criminalisation of abortion in Queensland
and the legalisation of Abortion in
Nina Caines

Do women in Queensland and Victoria have adequate and safe access to Abortion services?

Abortion laws in Australia vary dramatically from state to state. In Australia, one in three
women will undergo an Abortion in their lifetime and the majority of Australian’s believe
Abortion within the first trimester of pregnancy to be morally permissible (Betts 2009,
pp.29). This paper will use comparative analysis to highlight the stark differences between
Queensland’s highly restrictive abortion laws and Victoria’s significantly more liberal
abortion laws. The comparative analysis will explore how Victoria’s law, which once
mirrored Queensland’s, changed in 2008 to better reflect public opinion at the time.
Historical context will be provided to the laws of both states in order to examine the
changes and lack of changes both laws have undergone. This analysis will determine
whether or not the abortion laws in Queensland and Victoria comply with the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which is a
supplementary document to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the state of Queensland, the practice of Abortion is illegal according to the Queensland
Criminal Code of 1899 (Queensland Criminal Code 1899, Section 224). It is also a criminal act
to assist in the administration of an Abortion or to grant permission for another medical
professional to undertake the procedure (Queensland Criminal Code 1899, Section 225). The
maximum penalty for a doctor who illegally performs an abortion is 14 years and 7 years for
a woman who attempts to abort her own foetus (Betts 2009, pp.26). According to
Queensland Health, an abortion may be performed if a medical practitioner strongly
believes that continuing with the pregnancy will be of serious danger to the woman’s
physical or mental health (Kerr 2014, pp. 22). The criminalisation does not reflect
community demand for abortion services. Criminalising abortion is not only problematic for
women and communities but is ineffective in achieving its own goal. There has only been
one woman and two doctors charged with the crime of undergoing or administering an
abortion procedure in Queensland (Kerr 2014, pp. 20). This would suggest that the law is
not effective in penalising women or medical practitioners. Throughout history women have
travelled to places where abortion is legal to access abortion services (Kerr 2014, pp. 23). In
Australia, both medical and surgical abortions are considered to be very safe procedures
when administered by a registered medical practitioner (Kerr 2014, pp. 30). However, if a
woman cannot afford to travel interstate and still wishes to pursue the option of abortion,
they may choose unsafe methods such as the self-administration of Abortion drugs
Mifespristone and Misoprostol which can be purchased online (Sedgh et al. 2012, pp. 625-

631.). There is no link between restrictive abortion laws and lower abortion rates (Sedgh et
al. 2012, pp.625-631.). Despite its technical illegality there are still ten private abortion
clinics operating throughout Queensland (Kerr 2014, pp.20). Due to the small number of
clinics, there is a monopolisation effect on abortion services in Queensland with women
facing significantly higher fees for accessing abortion procedures than they would in states
with greater access to abortion services (Kerr 2014, pp. 27). This would further marginalise
women who are choosing to undergo an abortion due to being financially unable to raise a

Opposition to Abortion is often founded in religious views rather than on scientific evidence
(Betts 2009, pp.25). Australia is a secular state with ever growing religious diversity
(Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Media Centre). This means that by definition, laws
should take into account scientific evidence before religious afflictions. Majority of abortions
in Australia are carried out within the first trimester of pregnancy (Betts, 2008). There is heavy
debate surrounding when a foetus is deemed to be conscious or to feel pain. However, it is
widely accepted that brain development associated with consciousness begins between the
24th- 28th week of gestation (Koch, 2009). Language surrounding abortion is often misleading
such as the use of the term “child destruction” which is commonly used in the text of abortion
laws (El-Murr 2010, pp. 124). These misconceptions regarding abortion, particularly those
surrounding the number of abortions procedures performed past 20 weeks of gestation have
actively contributed to the stigma of abortion (Betts, 2008). These misconceptions about
abortion as well as strong opposition from religious groups have prevented the abortion law
from being reformed in Queensland to better reflect the views of the majority of the
population (Betts 2009, pp.29).

Queensland’s abortion laws were passed in 1899. Without considering pro-life or pro-choice
arguments, it would seem advisable that the law be reviewed due to the advancement of
medical technologies which have resulted in much safer and quicker abortion procedures
than were available in 1899 (Kerr 2014, pp. 17). The first woman elected to the Parliament of
Queensland was Irene Longman in 1929, thirty years after the Abortion act was passed
(Queensland Parliament 2015, pp.1). The androcentric environment in which Queensland’s
abortion law was passed suggests that in order to accurately reflect constituents, there should
be a balance of female and male MP's to represent the public. Currently the ratios of female
to male MP’s In the Queensland parliament are not equal and only rose to 43% female
representation in 2017 (The State of Queensland Department of the Premier and the Cabinet
2018). This trend is also reflected in the Federal parliament where women make up only 32%
of MP’s (Parliament of Australia 2016, Parliamentary Library, Flagpost).

Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women on 17 August 1983, as a signatory this requires Australian
law to reflect the conventions within the document (Australian Human Rights Commission
n.d.). CEDAW contains three conventions that refer specifically to a woman’s reproductive
rights. Notably, Article 16 states “The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the
number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and
means to enable them to exercise these rights;” (The United Nations, 1979). The
criminalisation of abortion and lack of abortion services In Queensland does not reflect this
convention. The UN CEDAW committee recommend that in places where abortion is illegal,


governments should “review its legislation with a view to decriminalizing abortion when the
pregnancy results from rape or sexual abuse” (United Nations 2015, pp. 1-3). The CEDAW
committee and the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have
also affirmed their position on the criminalisation and lack of access to abortion services
(United Nations 2015, pp. 1-3). Both committees believe that restricting women's access to
their reproductive rights infringes on their bodily autonomy and is not conducive to good
healthcare practice (United Nations 2015, pp. 1-3). It is evident that the abortion law in
Queensland must be amended in order to comply with its obligations within CEDAW.

Although abortions do take place in Queensland, the final decision is made by a medical
practitioner on whether the pregnancy will cause “significant danger to the woman’ physical
or mental health"(Kerr 2014, pp. 22). Even in these extreme cases of a woman being
impregnated through rape and/or incest, it is not guaranteed that the medical practitioner
will approve the procedure. In these cases, the Queensland abortion law does not reflect
public opinion. Approximately 73% of Australian’s in a survey conducted in 2010 stated that
medical practitioners should not be prosecuted for performing an abortion after 24 weeks
of gestation in cases of rape or incest (De Crespigny et al. 2010, pp. 11) This particular
survey also showed a high level of support for early term abortions with 87% of respondents
stating that abortion should be unconditionally lawful within the first trimester of
pregnancy. Another survey in 2007 showed that in all states of Australia there is a majority
support for abortion to be legal without restrictions (Betts 2009, pp.29). This same survey
also showed overwhelming support for the decriminalisation of abortion by 79% of people
in Queensland (Betts 2009, pp.25).

The Victorian Abortion Law Reform of 2008 allowed for the liberalisation of abortion and
granted women greater and less restrictive access to abortion services (Abortion Law
Reform Act 2008). Public support for the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria had grown
rapidly since the 1970's (Betts 2009, pp.31). Australia's peak public health body, The
National Health and Medical Research Council had commissioned a report on abortion in
Australia that was produced by an expert panel in 1992 (El-Murr 2010, pp. 122). This report
recommended that abortion be decriminalised across Australia, however the findings of this
report were ignored by Victorian lawmakers until 2008 (El-Murr 2010, pp. 122). To highlight
the antiquated nature of Victoria's abortion law prior to the reform it should be noted that
the wording of this law was based on legislation in the United Kingdom which was written in
1861 (Offences Against the Person 1961, Section 58 and 59, The United Kingdom). Prior to
the 2008 reform, abortion was criminalised in Victoria and the legislation had not been
amended since 1969 (El-Murr 2010, pp. 122). Undergoing an abortion was permitted only
permitted in cases where it was necessary to protect the mother's life (El-Murr 2010, pp.
122). However, in some cases it has been ruled by the court to be legal if a woman's physical
or mental health was in danger, which remains the current legal interpretation of abortion
law in Queensland (El-Murr 2010, pp. 122). The 2008 reform allowed for women to access a
medical or surgical abortion without doctor’s approval for up to 24 weeks of gestation
(Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel 2018). After 24 weeks a woman can still
access abortion services with the approval of two doctors (Victoria State Government,
Better Health Channel 2018). Although this is uncommon, it allows for women to undergo
an abortion if they are at risk from the pregnancy or if their foetus has serious defects
(Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel 2018). Due to its legalisation, abortion

services are offered at discounted rates for low income earners who hold a concession card,
providing greater access to marginalised women who might not have otherwise been able
to afford the fees (Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel 2018). If a doctor
objects to performing an abortion, they are required to refer the patient to a doctor who
will agree to provide abortion services (Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel

In 2015 the Victorian Parliament amended the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to
prevent anti-abortion groups from protesting within 150 metres of a hospital or clinic that
provides abortion services (The Department of the Premier and the Cabinet of Victoria 2015).
This allows women to be free from harassment and the ability to safely arrive at and leave
their appointment. This amendment also acts as a safeguard for medical professionals who
have the right to safely access their workplace (The Department of the Premier and the
Cabinet of Victoria 2015). Prior to this amendment there had been many reported cases of
women and medical staff experiencing psychologically damaging harassment as well as
physical obstruction from entering these hospitals and clinics (The Department of the Premier
and the Cabinet of Victoria 2015). One particular anti-abortion group "Helper's of God's
Precious Infants" protested on average six days a week outside of Melbourne's Fertility
Control Clinic causing daily distress for patients and staff (Parliament of Victoria 2015).
According to a Victorian abortion clinic Marie Stopes International, 46% of the late term
abortion procedures they perform are for women who live interstate (Medew 2015). The
buffer zones now in place outside of Victorian clinics are compliant with CEDAW and allow
women to freely exercise their bodily autonomy (United Nations 2015, pp. 1-3). Considering
these amendments, it is evident that women in Victoria have significantly safer and easier
access to abortion services than women in Queensland.

Queensland’s draconian abortion law as it stands under the criminal code is ineffective,
dangerous to women’s health and does not underpin democratic, pluralistic and therefore
Australian values. The criminalisation of Abortion does not reflect the views of the majority
of Australian people, or people in Queensland where it is criminalised (Betts 2000, pp.29). It
is clear that the Abortion laws in Victoria are compliant with CEDAW and the
recommendations of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(United Nations 2015, pp. 1-3). The law in Queensland is not compliant with either of these.
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 in Victoria has granted women to access abortion
services safely, allowing them to exercise autonomy over their body and reproductive rights.
The recent success of the referendum held in Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment of their
constitution which prohibits abortion has re-ignited public discussion on the issue (Henley
2018). If heavily catholic countries with deep rooted legislative restrictions on Abortion such
as Ireland can change, as well as multiple other Australian states, law reform is certainly
possible for the state of Queensland.

Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
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Queensland Criminal Code 1899, Chapter 22 – Offences against Morality, Sections 224-225


Nina Caines
Nina is currently completing the final year of her
International Studies degree majoring in
International Relations. She has recently moved to
Melbourne from Adelaide and transferred to
Deakin from Flinders University. She chose to
focus my policy analysis on abortion laws as she is
passionate about women’s rights and is interested
in the contrasting laws and policies between
Australian states.

To What Extent is Australia Successfully
Mitigating Racism through its Racial
Vilification Laws?
Sam Hoare

The analysis will address a key question as to the validity of Section 18C of The Racial
Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). S. 18C was introduced by the Racial Hatred Act 1995 (Federal
Register of Legislation 1995), and makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or
intimidate” a person a group on the basis of the “race, colour or national or ethnic origin of
that person of a member of the group” (AustLii 1975), the following section, 18D, provides a
freedom of speech exemption for anything said or done ‘reasonably and in good faith
(AustLii 1975). The internal policy analysis method will be utilized in order to measure if the
policy has achieved its objectives of reducing racial vilification in Australia, which will in turn
determine whether changes are needed to the policy.

The introduction of the policy was very controversial from the beginning, with Prime
Minister John Howard stating that he was willing to fight a dissolution on its introduction
(Berg & Davidson 2016). S. 18C was never in the spotlight for the Australian public until
Eatock vs Bolt 2011, in which a case was mounted against the political commentator for
making controversial comments about Aboriginal Australians, in an article titled “It’s so hip
to be black” (Federal Court 2011). Bolt was found guilty of breaching s. 18C, and it has been
a highly contentious issue in Australia since then, in 2012 Tony Abbott brought forward a
draft of a new bill which would replace the words ‘offend’, ‘insult’ and humiliate’ with
‘vilify’, while keeping the word intimidate in the bill (Berg & Davidson 2016).

One important factor to consider when analysing racial vilification laws in Australia is to look
at the level of racism in Australia today, and whether the level of racism warrants having
racial discrimination laws. Blair et al. (2016) ran a study in conjunction with the University of
Western Sydney in order to measure the level of racism in Australia, 6001 Australian
residents took part in a survey, with the resident’s demographics being equally distrusted as
they are throughout all of the Australian population. 27.6% of respondents said that they
would be extremely or very concerned if a relative were to marry a Muslim, 63% expressed
either intolerance or discomfort towards Muslim Australians, while over half of those
surveyed (51%) expressed anti-Middle Eastern sentiment with 43.9% expressing anti-African
sentiment. (Blair et al. 2016). One of the most eye-catching statistics was 79.3% of
respondents agreeing that racism exists in Australia, meaning that many people who hold
racist views acknowledge their racist beliefs, such as the belief of 23% that some migrant
groups do not belong and are not welcome in Australia (Blair et al. 2016).

When looking on the other side of the question, it can be seen that 34.8% of people had
experienced racism on public transport, 32.8% have experienced racism in the workplace
and 32.8% of respondents have experienced racism within their own educational institution.


One interesting fact is that Hindu Australians (75.2%) and Buddhists (74.9%) experience the
highest rates of discrimination, with Muslims receiving lower rates discrimination although
when surveyed, they were the religion or group of people that Australians were most
concerned with (Blair et al. 2016). What this shows is that a lot of the racism can be tied
back to a lack of education on how to identify minorities, and it has been proven that a lack
of educating in a populace can lead to increased levels of racism (Lazaro & Coti 2016).

Looking at Australia’s rights to freedom of speech will be critical in determining whether s.

18C does impede on Australians rights or not. The speech regime in Australia can be
described as a combination of “free speech and civil and criminal controls” (Berg & Davidson
2016), which shows that Australia does not have outright free speech. Australia’s explicit
rights to speech are stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (AHCR
2018), Article 19 of the ICCPR states that everyone shall have the ‘right to hold opinions
without interference’ and the ‘right to freedom of expression’ (AHCR 2018). There are
limitations in the ICCPR, it is stated that restrictions can be provided by law ‘for the respect
of the rights or reputations of others’ and ‘for the protection of national security of public
order, or of public health and morals’.

In Coleman vs Australia [2006] HRC (10 August 2006), it was determined by the UN Human
Rights Committee that Australia had implemented laws breaching its citizens’ rights to
freedom of expression as stated in the ICCPR. Coleman was convicted under Townsville City
Council Local Law No 39 for ‘taking part in a public address in a pedestrian mall without a
permit’, the man was discussing land rights and the freedom of speech, while it was stated
that the delivery of the messages was not disruptive. The UNHCR determined that while
having a permit system is not impermissible, it must find a balance between the general
interest in public order as well as the individual's freedom of expression (HRLC 2006). What
this shows is that although not s. 18C, Australia has been found guilty of breaching its
citizen's rights to expression only 12 years ago.

The Institutional Possibilities Frontier (IPF), introduced by Akhremenko, Lokshin & Petrov
(2016), explains that institutions or countries can be placed on a continuum between two
extremes: dictatorship and disorder, and shows that leaning to either side can result in
social losses. All social control mechanisms impose costs on the IPF, whether they be
dictator costs or dictator costs. Berg and Davidson (2016) apply the IPF to Australia’s current
debate over free speech, in this study disorder costs refer to the costs on uncontrolled
speech such as racism, sexism, homophobia or even damage to national security. Dictator
costs in the study refer to the loss of rights and democratic costs to Australia. Australia’s
current positioning on the IPF can be seen below (Berg & Davidson 2016).

As Berg and Davidson (2016) explain, the IPF above shows that Australia currently has a
“mixture of free speech and civil and criminal controls”, and what is likely the most cost-
minimizing institution. Referring to the Eatock vs Bolt case, the IPF below (Berg & Davidson
2016) explains the difference in positioning from supporters of s. 18C, and those who
support amending the section. The exposure draft refers to the aforementioned draft Tony
Abbott put forward to replace the words ‘offend’, ‘insult’ and humiliate’ with ‘vilify’, while
keeping the word intimidate in the bill, as well as allowing any communication that was “in
the course of participating in the public discussing of any political, social, cultural religious,
artistic, academic or scientific matter”, which no mention to either goof faith or
reasonableness, which according to Berg (2014) would have been close to a “full repeal of s.


The IPF brings up one major problem when it comes to reform of s. 18C, which is that many
different actors in the debate have different perceptions of relative costs when it comes to
the debate, although the solution presented is to compromise where the two IPF’s intersect
with each other and that both sides need to be willing to give each other room to negotiate
if a solution is to ever arise (Berg & Davidson 2016).

Being that s. 18C was introduced in 1995, it can be argued that perhaps it is not relevant in
2018, with the rise of social media and the internet. S. 18C has struggled to adapt to racial
vilification online. In Clarke v Nationwide News [2012] FCA 307 (27 March 2012), The
Sunday Times published an article on their website about an Aboriginal woman who
tragically lost her 3 sons and nephew in a motorcycle accident (Herborn 2013). In the
comments of the article on the website, a number of comments were approved online
including referring to the deceased as ‘criminal trash’ and one user even commenting ‘I
would use this scum as landfill’. Now, of course, these comments were found to have
breached s. 18, but due to the anonymity of the comments, it was Nationwide News who
was fined and not those who created the material (Herborn 2013), which shows some of the
limitations when it comes to s. 18C, as it is very difficult to enforce over the internet. S. 18C
also struggles to police comments that are made via platforms that are run outside of
Australia, such as Facebook and Twitter. A Facebook group was made depicting Aboriginal
Australians as alcoholics, child molesters and welfare abusers (Herborn 2013). When
material is hosted outside Australian jurisdiction there is little Australia can do, rendering s.
18C almost useless on these platforms (Herborn 2013).

These previous cases bring up the question – should racial vilification laws do more to
regulate the internet? Numerous studies have shown that social media has been linked to
increased political awareness and engagement for young people and minorities, which in
turn enhances democracy (Johns & McCosker 2014). Being able to combat and be aware of
racist and anti-racist provocation can lead to more productive citizens and gives the
opportunity to help change the minds of people who hold racist views. (Johns & McCosker
2014). There can be a strong argument presented that by regulating social media, the
potential for young citizens and minorities to make claims and take responsibility as citizens
if they view racial attacks is removed. Social media, in essence, allows for bigotry to be cast
to a larger audience, which in turn encourages exchange (Johns & McCosker 2014.

Those who support amending or removing s. 18C highlight the fact that they believe it
violates freedom of speech (Berg et al. 2016), although it is worth mentioning that as stated
earlier in this analysis, Australians do not have a formal freedom of speech clause in our bill
of rights (AHCR 2018). Other arguments presented is that it limits the number of ideas that
can be expressed by citizens, which in turn impedes the market of ideas and limits the
ability of many Australians to be positive citizens (Berg et al. 2016). More freedom of speech
is argued to strengthen social cohesion, as it allows for bad ideas to be exposed rather than
allowing them to build up in silence, which in turn could create worse bigotry and racism in
the country, rather than helping the issue (Berg et al. 2016). It can also be seen in similar
democracies such as New Zealand and Britain, that the word ‘insulting’ has been removed
from their racial vilification laws in 1989 and 2012 respectively (Berg et al. 2016).

Those who are against amending s. 18C argue that being subject to racial vilification can
cause great psychological harm to individuals and can often lead to violence, so it is
necessary to have laws that stop precursors to violence (Cody & Nawaz 2016). Justice
Bromberg has claimed that racial vilification can “spread and grow from prejudice to
discrimination, from prejudice to violence, or from prejudice to social exclusion” (AustLii
2011). It is also explained that while arguments are presented that s. 18C is an attack on
free speech, this argument ignores the laws ability to shut down free speech in other areas
such as sexual harassment and defamation (Cody and Nawaz 2016). S. 18C also sets a very
high threshold, making it difficult for many victims of vilification to use the law effectively,
presumed race is not protected, so if for example, a Hindi man receives basis on the virtue
of the perpetrator believing he is Muslim, which is quite common in Australia (Lazaro & Coti
2016), then the victim will not be protected under s. 18C (Cody & Nawaz 2016). Vilification
that occurs in a private residence is also not protected, while religious vilification is not
unlawful either (Cody & Nawaz 2016), which makes the argument that s. 18C could be
amended, but to provide more protections (Cody & Nawaz 2016).

In summary, arguments can be made for reforming, maintaining or completely removing

s.18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), however, the evidence suggests that the
best course of action is reform. The words ‘offend’, ‘insult’ and ‘humiliate’ likely result in
more racist views being held as they are forced to fester in silence. Words such as
‘intimidate’ and ‘vilify’ are better suited to the act as the point of the act should be to
prevent attacks that could lead to violence, but not to prevent people feeling offended or
insulted. The act itself is important, however, and the need for laws on racial vilification is
important due to the aforementioned statistics on the level of racism in Australia, which
should not be accepted by any citizen of Australia. It should be up to everyday Australians to
stand up for what they believe in and to take a stand when something isn’t right – this is
what will create progress in our society. An Australia without racism isn’t going to be
created artificially, it is going to happen when citizens are empowered to confront these
regressive ideas head-on. We can’t simply ignore racism, we must combat it, for if nobody
has the opportunity to confront these ideas, change will not come.

Akhremenko, A, Lokshin, I, Petrov, A 2016, ‘Institutional Possibility Frontier and Total Factor
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Sam Hoare
Sam currently studies a Bachelor of International Studies
and Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University, majoring in
International Relations and Marketing. His chief interests lie
in the protection of key freedoms such as religious liberty,
free speech and freedom of conscience, all the while being
heavily invested in Australia’s ever-changing role in the
global political arena. In his spare time, he also has a role
with UN Youth Australia in which he is primarily focused on
educating high school students around Australia on the
current issues and challenges facing the world today, and
how they can serve a more active role in shaping the world
in the future.


The Effectiveness of the Interactive
Games Industry’s Inclusion in a
Nationwide Technology Boom: A
Comparative Analysis
Tyler Roach

This report will undertake a comparative policy analysis to compare the Canadian
government’s approach to the ‘ideas boom’ of the late 1990s and early 2000s—which
utilised the interactive games industry to drive its technology boom—with that of Australia’s
current approach. The components of each government’s strategies will be compared
directly with one another and will be evaluated based on their successes and compared
using real world data, such as revenue differentials, employment rates and a comparison of
the state of the industry prior to and following strategy implementation.

For the comparative analysis, Australia and Canada were chosen as they share a
Commonwealth governmental system; a highly-educated workforce; a relatively weak dollar
in comparison to the US; a small cultural distance; and a comparable push for an ‘ideas
boom’ (Dyer-Whiteford & Sharman 2005).

This report aims to uncover which government implemented the most effective policy for
stimulating a technology and ideas boom, and whether the exclusion of the interactive
games industry will negatively detract from the growth of the Australian technology
industry. The report will argue that government strategy implemented in Canada, in a
comparable climate to present day Australia, has been effective in stimulating growth in the
technology sector and, as such, the Australian government’s negligence toward the
interactive games industry has deterred its push for achieving status as an innovation

Australia is currently experiencing a technological renaissance, with the Federal
Government preaching the necessity for a nationwide “idea boom”, pledging to promote
start-ups in the technology and innovation industry with a “20% non-refundable tax offset
for investors, as well as a capital gain exemption” (Grattan 2015). This is an essential step
for a nation dependent on a waning coal and fossil fuel industry who are seeking to solve an
unemployment crisis (Innovation Policy Platform 2016).

In the technology sector, the interactive games industry has seen a meteoric rise in worth
following the turn of the 21st century. The industry in 2017 reportedly made US$108.9

billion: an increase of 7.8% from the year before (McDonald 2017). The interactive games
industry is presently the “world’s fastest growing entertainment industry” and employs a
variety of applicant types from producers to designers to actors to marketers to
programmers, demonstrating the industry’s potential for job creation (The Greens 2016).
However, Australia’s Federal Government has emphasised both in its public rhetoric and
budget decisions that it does not intend to recognise the interactive games industry, and
that its investment only supports the promotion of “serious” industries (Australian
Government 2014).

Conversely, during the late 1990s, Canada had a similar push for an ‘ideas’ and technology
boom, however, the state opted to contribute financial subsidies and incentives to the high-
technology industry (Dyer-Whiteford & Sharman 2005). The Canadian Government allowed
interactive games companies located in Montreal to “enjoy tax credits equivalent to 40% of
the salaries”, ultimately birthing a state-localised games industry (2005, p. 195). This
proactivity by the federal government facilitated the release of over 50 digital games in
2002-03 by Quebec developers resulting in estimated revenues of $100 million (2005).
Continuation of its tax break, grants and support schemes, the Canadian government grew
its domestic interactive games industry to be worth $3.7 billion, today (Wilson 2018).

Interactive Games Industry: The Australian Approach

In recent years, Australia has had one of the world’s most resilient economies as it managed
to avoid significant impact from the 2008 global financial crisis that shook much of the
planet (Innovation Policy Platform 2016). During this time, Australia depended on its strong
labour productivity to sustain itself economically; however, as commodity prices begin to
fall and the global economic landscape shifts, Australia has been forced to readjust its
policies to maintain its economic stability (2016). As a resource-based exporter, Australia
saw coal and iron exports account for 29% of its total exports of goods and services in 2014-
15, however, with marginally lower demand and a necessity to conserve its “established
position in terms of international competitiveness” it has required the state to birth new
ideas for continued economic relevancy (2016).

Government Outlook
As many developed nations have done, Australia has opted to pursue a focus on a
technology and “idea boom” by pledging to promote start-up companies in the technology
and innovation fields with a 20% non-refundable tax offset for investors, as well as a capital
gains exemption (Grattan 2015). Noticeably, the Australian Government specifically do not
recognise the interactive games industry as a “serious” technology and innovation field, and
therefore exclude the industry from the government support scheme (Grattan 2015).

The Australian approach to policy making and—in regard to developing the local interactive
games industry—has historically been “intermittent, half-hearted and often poorly
targeted” (Banks, J & Cunningham, S 2016). The Federal government’s most recent
initiative—an A$20 million injection into the industry introduced by the Labor Party in
2013—was cut just two years after it began, citing the funds uselessness and a need to
reduce the country’s budget deficit, leaving Australia again without concrete policy
surrounding the rapidly growing industry (Banks, J & Cunningham, S 2016; Australian
Government 2014). Although at a federal level the industry is neglected, smaller parties—


such as the Greens—have stated they “believe it’s time government gave the videogames
industry the same level of support other creative industries enjoy”, suggesting that support
is growing for the industry on a micro level (The Greens 2016).

Climate of the Industry

In an industry worth billions of dollars globally, a recent interactive games industry snapshot
“revealed there are fewer than 1000 people employed in the Australian game development
sector”, with the snapshot suggesting that the industry has “a lack of government support
[that is] hampering efforts to push…[to] the world stage” (Wilson 2018). This, combined
with the aforementioned lack of policy support, demonstrates that the interactive games
industry is not on the agenda for the current government’s ‘ideas boom’. Perhaps it is time
for the Federal Government to look both domestically to see that Australian consumers
spent A$3.23 billion on games and gaming hardware in 2017 alone (with little to no
government assistance), a nine percent increase from the previous year, and globally to see
an industry worth over $100 billion (Gartrell 2018; Banks, J & Cunningham, S 2016).

Domestic Challenges
Australia continues to lose a considerable amount of high-level work talent to companies
abroad as a result of individuals seeking employment opportunities in the technology
sector, often the interactive games sector (Sturmer 2016). With the Obama administration’s
recently implemented “Start-up Visa”, talent loss may prove to be an ongoing issue for
Australia as the visa offers “foreign entrepreneurs to live and work in the US for up to five
years while they seek to grow their new business in the country” (Whigham 2016). Not only
will this be a considerable lure for Australian—as the US have a “thriving” tech sector and
large market—but, since Australia remains locked behind its existing, unwelcoming talent
acquisition visa, Australia is unable to attract talent from abroad to offset the talent loss

Interactive Games Industry: The Canadian (Retrospective) Approach

Government Outlook
The case of Canada is one which demonstrates a middle power, Commonwealth democracy
achieving success by taking a chance on what was considered an unstable industry in the
late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1998, Canada experienced a quarter of “desolate” high-tech
production activity and began to explore opportunities for growth of that sector and the
state identified Montreal specifically as a fertile ground to improve the industry upon, due
to its low cost of living relative to other Canadian cities (Dyer-Whiteford & Sharman 2005).

Consequently, the government launched a job creation scheme for the tech sector and
began to offer government assistance—from federal, provincial tax credits and cultural
funding agencies—and multimedia companies that “set up operations [in Montreal] could
enjoy ‘tax credits equivalent to 40% of the salaries of the eligible full-time employees, up to
a maximum of $15,000 per employee per annum’” (2005). Importantly, the interactive
games industry was not excluded from this scheme, and therefore, it aided in birthing a
domestic games industry, culminated by the luring of large games company, Ubisoft (2005).
At this time, Canada experienced widespread growth in the interactive games industry with
Quebec based developers releasing over 50 digital games between 1998 and 2001, totalling
a revenue of CA$100 million in 2002-3 (Dyer-Whiteford & Sharman 2005).

Domestic Challenges
Canada’s initial decision to promote the interactive games industry was met with criticism,
as the industry was viewed as unreliable, unpredictable and “precarious” (Dyer-Whiteford &
Sharman 2005). Despite this, and that a newly elected Liberal government in 2003 reduced
incentives afforded to game studios, the country managed to attract a “critical mass” of
talent and creativity, which lead to a second major studio—Electronic Arts--moving to
Montreal from the US, consequently employing another 500 people (2005).

The risks the Canadian government took offered considerable and ongoing returns for the
nation both economically and labour-wise with their domestic interactive games industry
growing to an annual worth of A$3.7b, as of 2017, and now employs more than 21,700
people in the industry, across 596 studios (Wilson 2018). Moreover, the rapid growth of the
industry is emphasised when comparing Quebec exclusively between 2002 and 2012. In this
period, the number of workers on record “increased more than sevenfold”, and the
employment growth for professional, scientific and technical services was at 44.8%,
compared to a total employment growth of 11.8% (Dupuis, J, St-Maurice, Y & Noreau, J
2013). This considerable growth demonstrates the Canadian government’s success in both
kickstarting a tech boom through the interactive games industry, and by maintaining the
industry’s growth with the industry’s contribution toward the Canadian GDP increasing by
an average of 28% over the past few years (Entertainment Software Association of Canada

The Australian government has flatly refused to recognise the profitability and growth of
the interactive games industry, as is emphasised through both the decision to exclude the
interactive games industry as part of its start-up support scheme. Conversely, when faced
with a comparable circumstance, the Canadian government opted to funnel money into the
games industry and benefitted from significant growth and income from both domestically
grown companies and companies abroad who relocated to Canada to benefit from the
systems in place.

Australia is currently experiencing high unemployment rates, and further issues regarding
loss of talent abroad and a lack of high-tech employers (Innovation Policy Platform 2016).
When Canada made the decision in the late 1990s to invest into the interactive games
industry, they were similarly experiencing an unemployment crisis and a lack of jobs. This
suggests, along with the likeness of the two states, that Australia and Canada were in
comparable positions when making the decision to invest in the technology sector and is
evidence that strategies similar to Canada’s could be implemented in Australia’s current
However, one point of difference is that of Australia’s talent loss to companies overseas. It
would be advantageous for Australia to investigate Canada’s current immigration policies
as, for work in the interactive games industry, Canada is the primary destination for
Australian expatriates (Sturmer 2016). Ultimately, Australia is not an attractive destination
for talent in the technology industry, whether it be from low employment options, tough
visa restrictions or the unappealing nature of a move to Australia. Matt Barrie, founder of, has been strong voice in this space suggesting that Australia has a “nanny


state” perception, with tough visa restrictions and, importantly, a “backwards” technology
industry that “[scares] off young people” (Sturmer 2016). This backwards ideology is
substantiated by the lack of progressiveness in the Australian government’s approach to the
tech boom—and the consequent omission of the interactive games sector from its
strategy—and is likely indicative of a reason for the disparity in success between Australia
and Canada: Canada supported the interactive games industry vocally and fiscally.
Additionally, the demographics most attracted to the interactive games industry are those
below 30, suggesting that it would be beneficial for the Australian government to create a
job market that appeals to the future and lowers the number of young Australians lost to
companies abroad in search of opportunity (Dupuis, J, St-Maurice, Y & Noreau, J 2013).

In the early 2000s, the Canadian government took a risk on the interactive games industry
as during this time the industry was considered to be “rife with uncertainty crisis” due to
the market’s history (Dyer-Whiteford, N & Sharman, Z 2005). However, for Australia in the
current climate, this risk is substantially lower as there has been categoric and consistent
growth of the games industry annually since the early 2000s (Wilson 2018). This would
suggest that Canada’s chief concern when considering games industry investment is no
longer a factor for Australia in the present day. Furthermore, the games industry has
progressed to a point that it can now be operated at a small scale, with smaller teams,
smaller investments and smaller production costs due to the advent of approachable game
engine technology, further lowering the risk (Abbott 2012). Finally, as the globe’s fastest
growing entertainment industry, the industry has a reliable future, and—with the popularity
surge of the mobile games market—a customer reach numbering in the billions.

The Federal government’s specificity of “innovative technology companies”, and its
consequent policy changes, continues to drive talent abroad, alienating many trained
Australians who are left to seek opportunities overseas to pursue their craft. If Australia
wishes to tackle its unemployment crisis, lacklustre technology industry and loss of talent,
particularly youth talent, to locations abroad it would be advantageous to invest in
progressive industries, such as the interactive games industry, rather than continue
needless alienation of industries with demonstrated profitability (Innovation Policy Platform

Canada’s substantial GDP growth in the interactive games sector, attraction of major
companies in the industry and unprecedented growth of employment in the technology
sector following its policy implementation suggests the decisions Canada made directly
enabled and promoted the success of both its domestic interactive games sector and its
technology industry as a whole. Moreover, Canada created this change in what was a largely
comparable, but more challenging, climate to that in Australia, currently. Technological
improvements and an increased, more accessible market size has given Australia a lower
barrier to entry, today.

Canada’s bet on the interactive games sector can be defined as risk-taking that paid off, and
Australia’s current trajectory could be defined as cowardice. The nation has shown an
unwillingness to facilitate change and progression, and instead has chosen to disregard
proven industries in favour of what it defines as ‘serious’. Could Canada’s strategies be

replicated in the current Australian market? Absolutely. The industry was birthed in Canada,
in a low cost of living city; Australia should consider introducing financial aides in a city such
as Adelaide to entice moves from abroad with the promise of cheaper living and job
opportunities—or to facilitate company creation.

Ultimately, Canada’s strategies have proven ongoing success in a comparable climate which
is ample cause to suggest that the Australian government’s neglect of the interactive games
industry is of detriment to the nation’s push toward a technology nation.

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industry in Quebec’, Desjardins Economic Studies, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 1-5.

Dyer-Whiteford, N & Sharman, Z 2005, ‘The Political Economy of Canada’s Video and
Computer Game Industry’, Canadian Journal of Communication, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 187-210.

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Industry Continues To Grow, Entertainment Software Association of Canada, viewed 23 May
2018, <>.

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Whigham, N 2016, ‘Fear is holding them back’: The US visa proposal Australia must emulate,
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Tyler Roach
Tyler is a third-year Bachelor of International Studies student,
majoring in International Relations. He currently lives in Tokyo,
Japan, and is completing his degree as a Cloud student. His
motivation to research and explore this policy area came from his
interest in game design and the game industry, as well as his
previous study within the field; he holds an Advanced Diploma in
Professional Game Development, which he completed prior to
beginning his International Studies degree. It is his hope that, one
day, Australia will become a nation of the future growing into a
technological hub that supports and facilitates innovation and
encourages specialisation in technology, so that we might help
bring about a brighter, more sustainable economic future.