17: A review of Australian public opinion surveys on illicit drugs

Author: Francis Matthew-Simmons, Stephanie Love, Alison Ritter

Resource Type: Monographs

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Public opinion can be an important determinant of social policy – governments are more likely to pursue policy options when they perceive public opinion to be supportive. In the illicit drugs area public opinion may be a more important factor in contributing to government policy because it is an area that often carries high emotional valence. The aims of this review are threefold:

  • To identify the current state of public opinion in relation to illicit drugs in Australia by examining recent public opinion research.
  • To determine how the public’s opinion has changed over time.
  • To compare different public opinion surveys and to understand why the results may differ.

To achieve these aims, we sought to identify comparable public opinion surveys related to illicit drugs conducted in Australia over a 23 year reference period (1985-2007). Each survey included in the review is described and reviewed. We then examine how public opinion has changed over that time, using a combination of different survey results. The report concludes with a discussion about the overall trends.

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