Response from the Australian Press Council, 27th March 2020

From: Complaints <>
Sent: Friday, 27 March 2020 8:44 AM
To: Stephen BRIGHT <>
Subject: APC 2020/0863 Complainant / The Herald Sun


Dear Mr Bright,


Re: The Herald Sun articles

  • “City’s heroin shame uncovered as addict overdoses in front of kids” (Online) 12 February 2020;
  • “Heroin scourge blamed for plunging property prices” (Online) 12 February 2020;
  • “Harrowing photo reveals Richmond’s heroin crisis’ new crescendo” (Online) 12 February 2020;
  • “Our insight into the Richmond drug issue struck a nerve” (Print) 13 February 2020;
  • “SMACK CITY” (Page 1) & ‘INJECTIONS OF DRUG CRISES’ (Print) 12 February 2020;
  • “Hit for home owners” (Print) February 2020;
  • “’ONE OF THE WORST DAYS I’VE WITNESSED’” (Print) 13 February 2020


We refer to your complaint received on 10 March 2020 concerning the articles above.

Your complaint has been processed in accordance with the Council’s secondary complaints-handling process. More information on this process is available here.

In your complaint you express concern that the articles “omits key facts” specifically that it “solely notes heroin in their titles” wherein the “data cited captures all illicit substance related ambulance attendances”. You also express concern that “the article intrudes on reasonable expectations of privacy and is insensitive” as the images of “the individual identified as John” “pries into John’s personal circumstances”.

After careful consideration, the Executive Director has decided not to proceed further with the complaint. In reaching this decision, we have taken into account that the statement “It comes as the number of ambulance call-outs for drug overdoses in the City of Yarra rose by more than 15 per cent during the first year” makes clear that the figure includes all forms of drugs rather than solely heroin. We also consider that it is unlikely a breach of privacy has occurred as the overdose occurred in a public place and the subject voluntarily participated in the interview. In any event, we consider there is strong public interest in reporting on the effects of drug use. Although we are not proceeding further with the complaint, the publication will be informed of your concerns about the article.

We appreciate your concern about compliance with appropriate media standards and we thank you for bringing it to our attention. Apart from the outcomes in specific cases, we do try to learn from the broad pattern of complaints in an effort to improve media standards and to target our educational initiatives.


Kind regards,


Chrissy Christofa
Complaints Officer
Australian Press Council Inc
Level 6, 53 Berry Street, North Sydney NSW 2060

PO Box 1014, North Sydney NSW 2059
Telephones:  02 9261 1930   1800 025 712