Tree Planting Ceremony for those lost to drugs

(1pm, Monday 22 July 2013, Lawrence Hargrave Reserve, Potts Point)

Thank you, Tony. Good afternoon, everyone. I thank Tony (Trimingham, MC) for his Welcome to Country. I am pleased to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

Everyone here today has first-hand experience of the effects of drugs - whether as family or friends who have lost someone to the direct or indirect effects of drug use; or as users, or as drug workers and carers.

Thirty-eight per cent of all Australians have used an illicit drug of some kind in the last 12 months. Probably all of us will have a friend, a family member, an acquaintance among that number. While the vast majority are in the so-called "softer" drug category, the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is still getting up to 230 visits a day.

So the reality of drug-use in our community is a long way from the shock-jock and media stereotypes, from the culture of blame and callous finger-pointing.

At the same time, that culture of finger-pointing makes the always-difficult grieving after a death even harder. But today marks a step forward in recognising and sharing that grief, in giving it an acknowledged place in our city and our lives.

So I would like to thank everyone involved in organising this ceremony for their work in supporting users, their families and friends. They include:

  • The Kirketon Road Centre
  • The Wayside Chapel
  • The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users' League
  • The NSW Users and AIDS Association and of course
  • The Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

Together and separately you have helped so many people. Especially today with this ceremony and tree-planting.

I hope it will help in the healing of those who, until now, have suffered largely in silence.

Thank you.