Blue Mountains News
Australian Documentary "Half a Million Steps" Tackles Drug Reform
The documentary is part of the Uniting Church's Fair Treatment campaign to advocate for drug law reform, and enhance access to treatment and harm reduction strategies.
Highlighting the determination of community leaders in Dubbo and across NSW, the film delves into the pursuit to find solutions to the nation's drug problems with support of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, a long-time campaigner for drug law reform.
The 90-minute documentary charts the route of a baton carried by 100 supporters collectively walking the half a million step journey from Dubbo to Sydney. This is the distance Shantell Irwin, a single mother living in Dubbo who uses methamphetamines has to travel to find suitable treatment for her drug use.
"It takes only a few steps to get drugs in Dubbo but I have to travel 400kms to Sydney to get treatment," said Shantell. Shantell's story is not unique and many other people featured in the documentary, who live in regional NSW and in Sydney and who use drugs have no access to treatment services. Unsurprisingly, drug induced deaths in Australia have hit their highest in 20 years.
Sir Richard is urging Australians to better understand the disastrous issue facing the nation and call on the NSW government for change. "Every year in Australia 200,000 people are denied access to alcohol and drug treatment services. If this many people who were living with cancer were denied treatment there would be an outcry," said Sir Richard who launched the Fair Treatment campaign in Sydney on 12 October 2018.
"The current approach to drugs is simply not working and I urge Australians to educate themselves on the devastating impact the current policy is having on people who use or have a problem with drugs. Together we can become stronger advocates for change and help the 200,000 lives that can be saved with more accessible treatment options."
Sir Richard's call is echoed by the Moderator of the Uniting Church NSW & ACT, Rev Simon Hansford. "It is now clearer than ever that the war on drugs is not working," Rev Hansford said. "Meaningful drug policy reform for the fair treatment of all people will only come through a courageous movement intent on forging a new path for people affected by drug policy. This documentary has the opportunity to play a powerful role in educating Australians on the issues we face as a country."
Half a Million Steps was produced for one sole purpose: making sure all Australians can access the care they need.
In 2016, the Uniting Church's NSW and ACT Synod passed a resolution calling on governments to direct greater investment in demand and harm reduction practices and the decriminalisation of personal drug use - the only church in the world to do so.
This led Uniting, the service and advocacy arm of the church, to set up the Fair Treatment campaign. It now has over 60 members including union, legal, health, church and community groups as well as service providers.
Half A Million Steps will screen at various Dendy cinemas in Sydney for a limited time and at Dubbo RSL.
Half A Million Steps
Friday 14 June 2019, 6pm for 7pm screening
Dubbo RSL, Cnr Brisbane & Wingewarra Streets, Dubbo NSW
To attend the Dubbo screening, please register here
Thursday 13 June, 6pm for 7pm screening - Palace Chauvel Paddington
Saturday 22 June, 2.30pm - Dendy Newtown
Thursday 27 June, 6.30m - Dendy Opera Quays
Wednesday 3 July, 6.30pm - Dendy Newtown
Friday 12 July, 6.30pm - Dendy Newtown
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