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A dialogue of the deaf : the rise and stall of harm reduction policy in Australia from 1980 to 2000

Hallam, JL 2006 , 'A dialogue of the deaf : the rise and stall of harm reduction policy in Australia from 1980 to 2000', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In the 1980s, a new policy approach to illicit drug use was established. This
philosophy of 'harm reduction' was in stark contrast to traditional abstinence—
oriented drug policy and was developed primarily by medical professionals working
with affected communities. Since its implementation, harm reduction has attracted
criticism, with the suggestion that such services that reduce the risk of illicit drug
use, in contrast with policy that encourages abstinence toward illicit drugs, result in
socially pathological results for society. Debates between supporters of harm
reduction and abstinence-oriented approaches often result in a deadlock, given such
fundamental disagreement over 'deep core' values.
This research applies the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), developed by Paul
Sabatier and Hank Jenkins-Smith, to explain the pattern of implementation of harm
reduction policies in Australia in the period from 1980 to 2000. The ACF is
principally focused on explaining how major policy change occurs, with emphasis on
the role of technical information in learning between coalitions. The ACF has
largely been applied to examination of environmental policy development, and this
research evaluated the utility of the ACF to comprehending change in social policy
The ACF was generally an adequate theory to comprehend illicit drug policy
developments between 1980 and 2000. The theory adequately described policy
oriented learning between coalitions, the notion of advocacy coalitions and
explaining major policy change. This research found that discord between coalitions
regarding the validity of information in subsystems occurred at a deeper level than
expected. Moreover, the nature of the problem area was subject to more change than
allowed for in the ACF's emphasis on stable system parameters. The thesis
concludes by offering some direction for future developments with regard to the
ACF when applied to analysing change in social policy arenas.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Hallam, JL
Keywords: Harm reduction, Intravenous drug abuse, Drug abuse, Heroin abuse
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2006 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Introduction -- Ch. 2. Advocacy coalitions and Australian illicit drug policy -- Ch. 3. The emergence of a coalition for harm reduction -- Ch. 4. Harm reduction policy stagnation and police innovation in Australia between 1990 and 2000 -- Ch. 5. Moral entrepreneurs and the undeserving: advocating prescription heroin and supervised injecting rooms in Australia in the 1990s -- Ch. 6. 20 years of epistemological struggle over illicit drugs: can the ACF explain illicit drug policy change? -- Conclusion

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