Although all the strategic priorities within Achieving balance contribute to minimising harm, there is a need to build on existing harm reduction policies and services to achieve greater balance, because harm reduction receives the lowest level of investment and resourcing across all three pillars (supply, demand and harm).
Harm reduction services respond to emerging issues and adapt to local changes in substance use trends and patterns.
For example, early warning systems or prompt response networks play a significant role in monitoring the illicit drug market as they can identify potentially harmful drugs in circulation and notify the community via public health channels.
Broader support services and law enforcement systems also have a role to play in identifying risks and facilitating referrals to the most effective supports and interventions to reduce harm.
A shift towards health-focused responses for people experiencing vulnerability can be achieved by better balancing investment and effort across all three pillars and adopting evidence-based and practice-informed policies.
Unintended systems-related harm can be reduced by parts of the system working together more effectively, and seeking to better understand differing perspectives and approaches. Enhancing coordination within and across government departments and non-government organisations can reduce preventable gaps between systems.
Systemic responses that improve outcomes at the individual, community and system levels can be strengthened by working across and within existing policy, planning and response frameworks in the areas of justice, child protection, employment, domestic and family violence, housing, disability, education, health and youth engagement.