The Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) is the national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs and is the peak body for the state and territory peer-based drug user organisations. AIVL operates on a peer-based, user-centred philosophy, which means the organisation is run by and for people who use/have used illicit drugs and proactively encourages and supports people who use illicit drugs and people on drug treatment to speak on their own behalf and have control of their own organisation.
The primary aim of AIVL is to promote the health and human rights of people who use or have used illicit drugs. The organisation believes people who use/have used illicit drugs should:
- Have autonomy over their own bodies;
- Be treated with dignity and respect; and
- Be able to live their lives free from stigma, discrimination and health and human rights violations.
The key objectives of AIVL are to:
- Address and advocate for the health and human rights issues for all people who use/have used illicit drugs;
- Prevent the transmission of blood borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C amongst people who inject drugs primarily through peer education and by promoting peer-based programs, services and approaches;
- Advocate for the provision of peer-based support and information to those already living with HIV and/or chronic hepatitis C and/or chronic hepatitis B and to promote effective models of service delivery and care for our community;
- Represent the interests of people who use illicit drugs and people on drug treatment to the general public, governments, the media and relevant sectors and services;
- Promote the need for radical legal and policy reform in relation to the current approach to addressing illicit drugs in society;
- Promote the need for services and programs that reduce drug related harm among people who use illicit drugs;
- Undertake consumer advocacy in relation to drug treatment issues.
AIVL was formed in the late 1980s/early 1990s in response to an identified need from the state/territory peer-based drug user organisations to have a national ‘voice’ for people who use illicit drugs, and in particular in relation to people who inject drugs. At the time, the Federal Government was formulating Australia’s first national response to HIV/AIDS and as drug users we were fighting for the establishment of Needle & Syringe Programs (NSPs) and advocating for the idea that drug users could effectively educate each other about HIV prevention and other issues and run their own organisations. This is the context in which AIVL as a national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs came into existence. AIVL became a formal incorporated, legal entity in 1992 which marked the development of both AIVL as the national body and a national network of organisations that over the ensuing decades has gone on to be highly regarded for our resilience in the face of extreme political and moral challenges, the quality of our work and importantly, the strength of our stance and representation on issues for people who inject and use illicit drugs both within and outside of Australia.
The majority of members of AIVL are state and territory peer-based drug user organisations. AIVL also has a smaller number of members who are fledgling local networks of drug users and peer-based programs and services within broader non-government organisations such as a peer-driven harm reduction program within an AIDS Council. Currently AIVL does not have individual members but individual drug users can be members of our state and territory peer-based member organisations and networks and can apply to join the AIVL E-list – a national email based, membership only, discussion list for the latest information on issues of interest for people who use illicit drugs and people on drug treatment and discussion with other drug users on the current health, social and political issues affecting our lives in a safe, non-judgemental and confidential environment.
For a list of AIVL’s current member organisations and their contact details click here.
For eligibility criteria and information on joining the AIVL E-list click here.
AIVL has two main funded programs of activity in 2014:
- Hepatitis C & Other BBVs & STIs Program – this is AIVL’s main program funding which is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, BBVS Section and is focused on a national program of activities that address issues for people who inject drugs and other illicit drug users in relation to blood borne viruses (BBVs) and sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in particular hepatitis C, HIV and hepatitis B. For more detailed information on this program, specific activities and project outcomes please click here.
- International Program – this is AIVL’s main program for engaging with and supporting the work of our counterpart organisations and networks in Asia. The program largely focuses on the development and maintenance of partnerships with peer-based drug user organisations and networks to support their work on HIV prevention, treatment and support for people who use drugs and other issues of high relevance for drug users such as human rights and the negative implications of compulsory detention centres. For more detailed information on this program specific activities and project outcomes please click here.
AIVL’s 25 year history highlights the strengths of the organisation and the power of the ‘user’s voice’:
- AIVL is built on a grassroots movement – owned by drug users.
- AIVL has a history of survival – with or without funding. AIVL had no significant or ongoing funding for the first 10 years of its existence.
- This means funding may fluctuate but the organisation will continue because we know we can survive without funding. We have done this before. AIVL is more than the funding from government or other sources it may secure at any given time.
- By the time we received first funding AIVL knew exactly what we needed to do – we had a long period of time to discuss what was needed should we acquire funding. We had a very large agenda of work and issues that we wanted to pursue on behalf of our community. As a result AIVL has developed significantly over past 15 years – this website and AIVL’s general online and social media presence is a testimony to our grassroots history and our ‘present’.
- AIVL continues in 2014 to be dedicated to the people and issues we represent. We are motivated by a core understanding that there are people who are counting on us to get things right. And the ‘things’ we must get right are ensuring we stay focused on the issues that are important to people who use and have used illicit drugs in Australia, regionally and globally.
- AIVL is the user’s voice in Australia and we are an effective and dynamic organisation with a strong and proud history that guides our future.