Susie Wang and Wilson Huang

Week 8, Semester 2, 2020

Fair Treatment and drug law reform
In 2018, Uniting NSW.ACT launched a campaign highlighting the need for increased access to treatment for drug dependency, particularly in rural and regional areas. Uniting and over 60 partner organisations, advocated for a rethink of our drug approach that included increasing funding to evidence-based treatment, as well a shift to a welfare and health approach to personal drug use. Particularly, there is currently a need for a rehabilitation and detox service in Dubbo. For more info about the campaign and to watch their documentary, “Half a Million Steps” visit: fairtreatment.org

Oppose NSW One Nation’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

A Joint Select Committee is currently looking into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020. The bill has been criticised by numerous organisations including Equality Australia, Amnesty International Australia, and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights for privileging religious rights over other human rights. The current bill is also opposed by the Uniting Church NSW/ACT as well as the national Anglican church for similar reasons. However, the bill has support from some conservative Christian groups including the Sydney Anglicans. Submissions have now closed, however, if you want to express your opposition head to Equality Australia’s petition at: equalityaustralia.org.au/stoponenationsbill/

TGA considering applications to reschedule psychedelics’ psilocybin and MDMA for medical treatment
Mind Medicine Australia has submitted two applications to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to reschedule psilocybin and MDMA for supervised medical use to Schedule 8 as controlled drugs. Psychedelics have had a history of use in traditional and Indigenous medicine and religions including in South America for their apparent ability to promote healing. Currently, there has been some promising research into the use of psychedelics in treating mental distress particularly in terminal patients. St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne will be trailing the use of psilocybin for anxiety relief in terminal patients with patient guidance and psychotherapy. For more information on psychedelic treatment see Vox’s “The mind, explained” on their website or Netflix.

Week 8, Semester 1, 2020

Hey everyone! My name is Wilson, and I am one of the interfaith officers in 2020. I understand that many of us are going through tough times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like some basic support, please visit coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/ or email the SRC caseworkers at help@src.usyd.edu.au.

Reflections on the religious freedom bill:
I previously wrote a submission on the second draft of the religious freedom bill which is available on the government’s public submission page. My main concerns were that the bill would negatively impact social cohesion and would privilege religious rights over other human rights. I was especially concerned at how the bill would affect queer people of faith as they’re the people who would likely bear the full brunt of the bill. I believe that it is generally not appropriate for religious organisations or people to discriminate if they’re providing essential medical care or social/civil services. Numerous faith-based community organisations have opposed the current bill including Uniting Vic.Tas, Sacred Heart Mission, Anglicare Victoria, Jewish Care Victoria, Jesuit Social Services, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand and McAuley Community Services for Women. equalityaustralia.org.au/faithorgstatement/

Abortion is an essential health service:
Numerous US states have attempted to use the COVID-19 pandemic to restrict abortion rights. This is a dangerous thing to do especially in the middle of a pandemic. While I understand that abortion can elicit very personal responses, it does not change the realities of people who need them. Abortion is a safe medical procedure which may be necessary in cases including, but not limited to, sexual assault, severe fetal abnormalities and ectopic pregnancies. Restricting abortion rights is likely to lead us to a situation where unsafe abortions become the norm. We need to trust people to make decisions regarding their reproductive health in good faith.
If you would like to get in contact with me about anything, please email interfaith.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.