Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Dr David Ryder

Abstract

Attitudes are essential to understanding the individual within the context of their social world (Perloff, 2003). Australia's policy toward drug use and drug-related harm encompasses a harm minimisation approach (Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy [MCDS], 2004). Harm minimisation seeks to ameliorate the social, economic and health consequences of drug use through a comprehensive framework of supply reduction, demand reduction, and harm reduction policies and programs (MCDS, 2004). This paper reviews the relevant literature on attitudes towards harm minimisation, both internationally and in Australia. Indeed, Australian research suggested (Bammer, 1995; Lawrence, Bammer & Chapman, 2000) that there is a heavy media influence toward strictly abstinence-oriented policies which influenced public opinion. Other Australian research (Makkai & McAllister, 1998; Single & Rohl, 1998) suggested a shift in the public consciousness toward viewing drug use and drug-related harm as primarily a health, not a moral issue. Research by Goddard and colleagues (2002, 2003, 2006) and Quick (2007) suggested that after exposure to harm minimisation principles there was a shift in attitudes toward acceptance of harm minimisation. Overall this research suggested that public attitudes may be shifted towards acceptance of harm minimisation which is the philosophy of Australia's current National Drug Strategy, through exposure to evidence on the efficacy of harm minimisation strategies.

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