University of Tasmania
whole_HallamJacquelineLouise2006_thesis.pdf (13.85 MB)

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

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posted on 2023-05-26, 21:03 authored by Hallam, JL
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‚ÄövÑvÆ 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 systems. 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.


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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). 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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