Harm Reduction Hui ‘Bout to Drop

Harm Reduction Hui ‘Bout to Drop

This is my shit!

Harm reduction is about to take centre stage with the Deep South Alcohol and Drug Harm Reduction Hui happening Monday and Tuesday this week at the Dunedin Art Gallery. According to the invite, the key aim is to “provide an opportunity to network to build relationships with others who are committed to alcohol and drug harm reduction in Otago and Southland, as well as larger organisations and agencies based in other parts of the motu.” The free event offers food, wisdom, and “there won’t be any alcohol,” as co-coordinator Liz Gordon told Critic Te Ārohi. 

Liz works for Communities Against Alcohol Harm, a Christchurch-based organisation that seeks to support communities vulnerable to alcohol-related harm. It’s not their first trip to Dunedin, having come down in the past for six alcohol licence hearings where they had input to ensure the limitation of licensing in vulnerable contexts. Now they’re taking the lead in Dunners, stating, “We felt there was a case to be made for a hui focusing on community education around alcohol harm, and we are working with some local partners to bring this to you.”

Speaking to the reasons for initiating the hui, Liz told Critic Te Ārohi, “It is no secret that the [Dunedin] drinking culture is risky and can be excessive, leading to physical and mental harm, up to and including addiction, disability, and death. [A] massively uncontrolled supply of alcohol makes things worse.” Her comments are not new to the wider conversation of the binge-drinking culture we’re all familiar with. Liz continued to point out that with alcohol use being largely uncontrolled in Dunedin, it “stops being fun and becomes a drug that causes untold harm.”

And just like alcohol, the hui is accessible. It’s free to access and taps on several key communities through its speakers: the Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and a number of other organisations are set to speak, including Rawiri David Ratu, an alcohol harm prevention advocate who’s set to speak to his ongoing work on reducing the harm of waipiro (alcohol) to Māori. Chlöe Swarbrick was also going to be there, but she’s sadly too under the weather to make the trip down. 

Supporting the event is the much talked about (mainly by us) Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), who simply said, “It's free, there's free food, and the more students that are involved the better the hui is going to be.” Bleshgo. 

In addition to the hui, SSDP is running a ‘Let’s talk about drugs’ event which will run in Auahi Ora on Monday, March 18 at 7:00pm. To our dedicated readers who pick up your weekly copy of Critic as soon as it hits the stands, that’s tonight. Feel free to rock up and hit the panel with any questions they may or may not have answers for. How much the going price of MDMA is (and whether it’ll be impacted by inflation) may not be appropriate — but also, they should know their stuff tbh.

The event proposes to set out a plan for tackling future issues in harm reduction.

This article first appeared in Issue 4, 2024.
Posted 5:52pm Sunday 17th March 2024 by Hugh Askerud.