As the Government celebrates the start of Te Ara Oranga in Eastern Bay of Plenty today, the Green Party is calling for the successful drug harm reduction programme to be expanded nationwide.
“Te Ara Oranga has shown that it can reduce drug harm through targeted community projects, and there is no good reason why these services cannot be made available right across the country,” says Chlöe Swarbrick, Green spokesperson for drug law reform.
“The Government still spends four times as much on ineffective drug law enforcement than on measures focused on genuinely reducing harm.
“Over the last five years, Te Ara Oranga has established an effective partnership between police, mental health and addiction services, community groups and iwi service-providers - and the results speak for themselves, including 34 percent reduction in harm from offending.
“The Green Party has been calling for a nationwide expansion of Te Ara Organa since 2018. The Drug Foundation also wants to see the programme expanded across the country. While we are delighted that the Government has followed our lead and expanded the programme to the Eastern Bay of Plenty, we do not see any reason to stop there.
“We have spent good money after bad for 40-plus years on mainstream punitive approaches and it has only made things worse for our communities. It is time to roll out an evidence-based public health approach to meth harm as the proven best possible way to reduce harm among our communities.
“But if we are serious about tackling drug harm then the Government also needs to fund the health, housing, and community services that address the very problems which drive people into substance addiction and abuse in the first place,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.