Documentary shines a light on need for better access to drug treatment

Documenting reality: Campaign advocate and film protagonist, Shantelle Irwin.
Documenting reality: Campaign advocate and film protagonist, Shantelle Irwin.

Engadine Uniting Church is inviting the community to attend a free screening of the documentary Half a Million Steps, which calls for fair treatment access by making problem drug use a health not criminal matter.

The documentary covered a walk of 500,000 steps undertaken by 100 people from Dubbo to Sydney in October 2018 to highlight challenges faced by many in accessing treatment for problem drug use.

Produced by the Uniting Church, the documentary shares the journey of the 'The Long Walk to Treatment' which was a church led event which saw participants deliver a letter to the Parliament asking for help.

The walk and the film are part of the Fair Treatment campaign - a reform approach to illicit drug use, to improve access to treatment services. The campaign has the support of more than 60 partner organisations from the legal, community, health and union sectors.

Drug-induced deaths in Australia have now hit their highest in 20 years. Of the more than 80,000 Australians charged with drug related offenses in 2014/15, 66 per cent were charged only with personal possession or use, and this number is increasing.

Uniting's Director of Mission, Communities and Social Impact, Doug Taylor, says Half a Million Steps was made to highlight the personal stories behind the lack of treatment services.

"These are stories about our friends, family members, our neighbours and our communities," he said.

"It is our contention that drug use is best dealt with by treatment and rehabilitation services and should not be led by the police, courts, and prisons.

"It is our hope that people who take the time to see it and help us to appeal to the NSW government to change its approach to problem drug use."

The October 13 event starts at 2pm, at the corner of Cambrai and Chipilly streets, Engadine.