VSU media guidelines

In 1985, a Senate Select committee on Volatile Substance Fumes developed guidelines for media to guide the responsible reporting of VSU issues. These are also in line with the Australian Press Council's guidelines for reporting about drugs and drug addiction.

Senate Select Committee guidelines

The Senate Select Committee on Volatile Substance Fumes (1985) recommended that the media be guided by the following considerations:

  • Products subject to abuse should not be named and methods used should not be described or depicted
  • Reports of inhalant abuse deaths should be factual, and not sensationalised or glamourised
  • Articles on casualties of volatile substance abuse should not be superficial. The causes are complex; they vary from region to region and may be different for each individual involved. Reliable organisations should be contacted for information
  • Stories should include a local contact telephone number or source organisation for further information.

Source:  Senate Select Committee on Volatile Substance Fumes (1985) Volatile substance abuse in Australia, Canberra: AGPS.

Australian Press Council guidelines

The Australian Press Council has published the following guidelines for reporting about drugs and drug addiction, which were endorsed by the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy.

  • Responsibly report public debate about drug use and addiction
  • The harmful effects of any particular drug should not be exaggerated or minimised
  • Avoid detailed accounts of consumption methods, even though many young people are generally familiar with them
  • Outlining the chemical composition of a drug may be justified in some reports, but avoid providing any details which could assist its manufacture
  • Do not quote the lethal dose of any particular drug
  • Guard against any reporting which might encourage readers' experimentation with a drug, for example, highlighting the 'glamour' of the dangers involved
  • Highlight elements of a story which convey the message that preventive measures against drug abuse do exist, and that people can be protected from the harmful consequences of their addictive behaviours
  • Bear in mind the arguments of those who point out that tobacco and alcohol use and addiction are another major aspect of the drug story.

Source: Guideline: Drugs and drug addiction, Australian Press Council (2011).