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Australia’s largest youth alcohol and other drugs service calls on Victorian Premier to follow US President Biden’s lead and decriminalise cannabis

The Youth Support and Advocacy Service urge Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to reconsider his position on cannabis decriminalisation following a historic announcement from the President of the United States Joe Biden to pardon thousands of people convicted of cannabis possession and paving the way for national legalisation of the drug.

Data collected by the annual Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s ‘National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022’ revealed that Australians are now more supportive of cannabis use than tobacco, and in Victoria, 77% of people surveyed agree that cannabis should be decriminalised.

Andrew Bruun, YSAS CEO said that decriminalising personal illegal drug use and possession is both sensible and fair, and young people are far better off receiving drug education and support rather than a conviction as he launches the organisations priorities for the upcoming state election.

“Today, we’re putting forward a set of common-sense recommendations for the State Government and all parties and candidates to consider as Victorians are about to head to the polls. At the centre of our advocacy is the widely supported call to decriminalise personal use and possession for all substances that are currently illegal, including cannabis.”

“Our young people deserve every opportunity to learn from their experiences and develop well. Our focus is on reaching out to young people and families and intervening early to prevent involvement in harmful drug use and potential involvement with the criminal justice system.”

“Providing young people with opportunities to develop and make a valuable contribution in their community is far better than lumbering them with a criminal record for personal use of a drug like cannabis” Bruun said.

Included in the YSAS 2022 State Election Platform ‘Supporting Young People Who Experience Disadvantage’ 16 key asks for Victorian State Government action are:

• Investing in early intervention programs and specialist workforce to address critical need in Melbourne’s urban fringe and regional growth corridors,

• Addressing the over representation of Pasifika, African and Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system, and

• Establishing more youth-specific housing and increasing the funds available in Victoria’s Big Build in line the percentage of young people who experience homelessness.

Digital soft copy of the 2022 YSAS State Election Platform can be accessed online.

About YSAS (Youth Support + Advocacy Service)

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug service, YSAS now employs over 370 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While the prime focus of YSAS remains on effective Youth AOD treatment and sector leadership, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and improve meaningful community participation.

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