Harm minimisation

Since the 1985 launch of the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) (now the National Drug Strategy), Australia has adopted a harm minimisation approach for addressing a range of issues associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. The approach recognises that drug use is a complex phenomenon that will never be entirely eliminated, and that people who use drugs should be supported to progressively reduce harms to themselves and the wider community [1,2]. The National Drug Strategy 2017–2026 focuses on reducing harms using three approaches, demand reduction, supply reduction, harm reduction (Figure HARM1).

Figure HARM1: Three pillars of harm minimisation

This figure visually demonstrates the harm minimisation approach through demand reduction, harm, reduction and supply reduction. Harm minimisation is building safe health and resilient communities through preventing, responding and reducing alcohol and other drugs related health and economic harm.

Source: Adapted from the Department of Health [1].


  1. Department of Health 2017. National Drug Strategy 2017-2016. Canberra: Australian Government. Viewed 12 January 2018.
  2. UNODC (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime) 2008. Drug policy and results in Australia (PDF). Viewed 14 December 2017.