As CEO of NUAA, I support the goals of Harm Reduction Australia and their efforts to create a coalition of people and organisations to promote the health and human rights of people who use drugs. The systemic harms caused by the ongoing criminalisation of people who use drugs and the conflicting aims and methods of various levels of government in Australia has created confusion and made our harm reduction programs less effective. Australia has previously taken a leading role in key harm reduction programs such as provision of clean injecting equipment –initiatives led by people who use drugs that have had a significant impact on the health of the Australian community. We need to re-invigorate our efforts in a constantly challenging climate in order to increase access to appropriate health care for a highly marginalised community.
Mary Ellen Harrod joined the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) in January 2015 as the CEO. She has an extensive background in public health and clinical research including a empowering people working in clinical settings to develop and evaluate evidence-based practice. At NUAA her focus is on continuing to build an effective organisation that can support both individuals and the broader community of people who use illicit drugs to access health care free from stigma and discrimination and to advocate for effective systems change that supports the health and human rights of people who use drugs.