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Local Nutters #1- Ann Bressington (part 1 in a series)

Posted by irisheaven on August 18, 2006

“HIGH school students in South Australia will be tested for drugs twice a year if radical legislation proposed by new MP Ann Bressington is adopted.

Although the anti-drugs campaigner’s move has outraged parent groups, she says anyone who opposes her legislation, which also would allow tests to be carried out without parental consent, is “soft on drugs”.The independent MP, elected to State Parliament’s Upper House this year on the ticket of No Pokies MP Nick Xenophon, will introduce her legislation to Parliament this month. She has urged parents to support her plan and to resist likely opposition to it.

“Concerned parents need to watch closely who opposes the measure . . . it will be an indication of who is soft on drugs,” she said.

South Australian Association of State Schools Organisation director David Knuckey said making the tests compulsory “completely overrides” the rights of parents.

“It’s mandatory. It removes all consent from parents,” he said.

“This is a Bill that could potentially take so much away from parents, school communities and community groups.”

Measures include compulsory testing twice yearly for students aged more than 14. Those who refuse could be suspended for up to five days.

Public and private schools would have to test their students. Parents would receive a report on their child’s results.

What drugs would be tested, or what testing methods would be used are not stipulated in the legislation. Mr Knuckey, who represents school governing councils, said some parents were worried about the invasive nature of testing. One parent reportedly told him: “Nobody is going to touch my 14-year-old daughter and forcibly take a sample from her body without my consent.”

Mr Knuckey stressed drug use among children was a serious issue.

“No matter how many children are using drugs, it’s too many,” he said.

Ms Bressington said overseas trials had proved the effectiveness of such measures. She said she was willing to negotiate the issue of consent with parent groups.

The legislation is expected to be introduced when Parliament returns from its winter break at the end of the month.”


part two, part three

cannabis and schizophrenia


3 Responses to “Local Nutters #1- Ann Bressington (part 1 in a series)”

  1. irisheaven said

    Should all school students be drug tested?
    ABC Broadcast: 18/08/2006
    Reporter: Ian Henschke
    This week anti drugs MP Ann Bressington called for compulsory drug tests for all public and private high school students. It’s reignited the debate about how we deal with the issue of drugs. So tonight we’ve asked her and leading drugs researcher, Dr David Caldicott from the Emergency Department at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, to discuss the issue. Dr Caldicott has called for a different type of testing, testing of drugs used at rave parties to protect party goers. But firstly Ann Bressington, what approach should we be taking to drugs?
    ANN BRESSINGTON, INDEPENDENT MP: Well, I don’t think there’s any one approach that we can take. I think that the main thing is to get the message out there to our kids that drug use is not okay, that there are long term harmful effects to drugs and we should use a range of strategies to get that message out there. Obviously what we’re doing currently isn’t getting the message out enough.
    IAN HENSCHKE: And you think compulsory testing of all students would work?
    ANN BRESSINGTON: Well, it’s shown in the United States and the UK that it was successful in a trial of 67 high schools in Indiana, a 40 per cent reduction in the number of drug-related suspensions; 98 per cent of principals stated that they observed that it definitely discouraged drug use in our teens.
    IAN HENSCHKE: What about you, Dr Caldicott?
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT, DRUG RESEARCHER, RAH: Look, I have a different opinion. I think the study that Ms Bressington quotes is not a scientific one. It comes from the Bible Belt of middle America. It has not been replicated in any of the literature anywhere. The American Academy of Paediatrics, the highest peak body for paediatrics in the United States, has come out very strongly against mandatory drug testing; as has the National Association of Public Health. And indeed the largest study in the world, the Monitoring the Future study, the man who runs that, is also against mandatory testing.
    IAN HENSCHKE: What should we do then?
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT: I think education is critical. I think we need to inform, in a non-moralising way, young people about the potential harms of drug use. To berate them, to make anything compulsory, to do anything other than let them arrive at their own conclusions with the information they require is patronising.
    IAN HENSCHKE: Do you believe in that then?
    ANN BRESSINGTON: I think this is the core of our problem, this discourse that’s created in these kind of debates where one sort of research is demonised and the other sort of research is put up there as the be-all and end-all. There are two sides of research and there are two arguments here: anti drugs which I’ve been dubbed to be, or pro drugs and that’s not necessarily the case either.
    IAN HENSCHKE: Are you saying that Dr Caldicott is pro drugs?
    ANN BRESSINGTON: No, I’m saying that’s the labels that are put out there. And we need to start coming together on this and agreeing that both sides have valid research that needs to be considered, and that’s where we’re going to get that balance of the approach that we need.
    IAN HENSCHKE: What about a parent who’s watching this. They’re confused now. We just heard there is a professor there. You’re saying Bible Belt.
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT: I think they shouldn’t be confused. This is not an accepted policy anywhere around the world, and parents need to ask themselves whether they want to be the test ground for a policy which will degrade the trust between teachers and students, between parents and students, and may in fact force young people into using drugs they cannot be tested for by current testing mechanisms.
    IAN HENSCHKE: What about the parents who say if we brought this policy in there would be less drugs at school?
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT: There may well be: I accept that. It may drive drug use to a place where they cannot be monitored. It may encourage people not to discuss drugs. I think we should be debating drugs in school. I think young people should be encouraged to talk about their drug use and to talk about it with people who know what they’re talking about. If you just introduce something like this without discussions with the students, without involving the students, what you are going to do is drive the problem elsewhere and underground.
    ANN BRESSINGTON: You know, when we say we need to consult with students, I have consulted with students. I’ve been going to high schools for seven years and I’ve discussed this with students. I’ve discussed it with parents. And I do have the support of parents and teachers. I don’t have the support of the bureaucratic peak bodies that run the government councils. But I received hundreds of calls yesterday and emails, with people offering their support for this school drug testing. Parents are lost, teachers are lost and students are lost. They don’t know what to do when they have drug-using kids in their school.
    IAN HENSCHKE: Is politics interfering with good drugs policy?
    ANN BRESSINGTON: No. I’m not that kind of a politician. My background is 11 years in treatment and rehabilitation. I have listened to recovered drug users and they get angry about the sort of approaches.
    IAN HENSCHKE: Dr Caldicott, your response: is politics interfering with drugs policy?
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT: I think it quite clearly is. I think you have a given vocal small demographic groups who have got very fixed ideas about what drugs policy should be. I think politicians are riding the bandwagon. I think Ms Bressington isn’t. I think Ms Bressington is very honest and genuine. However, I think her research support is lacking.
    IAN HENSCHKE: So do you think she’s wrong though?
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT: I do, I think she’s very wrong, but I think her heart is in the right place. I think there are far worse people who are riding this purely for electoral success.
    IAN HENSCHKE: All right, Ann Bressington, to sum up then, someone sitting at home watching this, you are serious about this: you want drug testing brought in, in every high school in the state.
    ANN BRESSINGTON: I want it considered. It’s a piece of legislation that’s been introduced for debate, and I have said that if the government isn’t prepared to run with this, to have a pilot program, let’s test it and see.
    IAN HENSCHKE: David Caldicott?
    DR DAVID CALDICOTT: I think it’s very important in Australia that parents understand how drugs policy is being decided and formulated. I think that medicine and science is being sidelined and I think ideology is taking over. This is a very dangerous time in Australia: we have to be very careful that we get back to the science, back to the medicine, and if Ms Bressington is committed to that, I’ll support her.
    IAN HENSCHKE: Thanks both for your time.

  2. irisheaven said

    1. Ms. Bressington likes to introduce so-called “research” into the debate to bolster her ‘argument’- unfortunately the research, as pointed out by Dr. Caldicott, is spurious, non-scientific and not replicated. In other words it’s “crap”.
    This is what happens when you develop a “policy” based only on your own isolated, ignorant and personal belief system- ie. good research won’t back you up so you are only left with partisan biased leftovers.
    2. Ms. Bressington after being confronted with the ‘vaccuousness’ of her “research” ignores the reality and just blunders on using hyperbole of a biblical nature to defend her view, ie. she says her “research is demonised”. Actually it was quietly and rationally put into context.
    3. By dealing with the issue of crap research in this way, Ms. Bressington does an injustice and damage to the whole, so-to-say, “drugs” debate.
    She is just another in a long line of, at best, misguided and ignorant, or at worse, deceptive and dangerous commentators on the issue.
    Personally I don’t think her “heart” is in the right place at all- I have heard her play out the ‘well if you are not with me then you are soft on drugs’ rhetoric too many times to see her as anything but another opportunistic ‘hate and fear monger’ working from some inner psychological difficulty that drives her ‘totalitarian’ fantasies.
    God spare us from the “world changers”!

  3. irisheaven said

    For another vision which includes some pertinent information on certain “drugs” see, Jean Houston Interview.

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