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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Injecting room and more pill testing on the cards

The ACT Government’s framework toward handling drug, alcohol and tobacco-related issues in the Territory has been unveiled after community consultation held earlier this year.

The newly released ACT Drug Strategy Action Plan 2018-21 comprises 43 measures, some noteworthy items include: exploring “further opportunities to expand on pill testing at events in the ACT”; and “investigating the feasibility, need, effectiveness and appropriateness of establishing a medically supervised drug consumption facility (supervised injecting facility) in the ACT”.

A Drug Strategy Action Plan 2018-21 draft, released for public consultation in June this year, contained measures such as raising the legal age of smoking, banning smoking in correctional facilities, and setting a minimum price per standard drink. All of these were removed from the final plan.

ACT Minister for Health Megan Fitzharris said the plan is aligned to the Federal Government’s National Drug Strategy 20172026 and “aims to build safe, healthy and resilient communities through preventing and minimising alcohol, tobacco and other drug-related health, social, cultural and economic harms among individuals, families and communities”.

“The ACT Government will take a ‘harm minimisation’ approach, focusing on demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction.

“This threefold approach will look to prevent uptake and delay in first use, reduce harmful use and support people to recover; restrict availability and access to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to prevent and reduce problems; and encourage safer behaviours and reduce preventable risk factors,” Minister Fitzharris said.

The plan outlines reducing excessive single-occasion and lifetime alcohol consumption, minimising uptake of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoking, providing better access to prevention, education and testing of HIV and hepatitis, and controlling the availability of pharmaceuticals, as just some of the key objectives upon which it will be measured over the next three years.

An Advisory Group with broad representation will also be set up to help guide the implementation and evaluation of the ACT Action Plan.

The Advisory Group will include representatives from across ACT Government, relevant non-government peak bodies, community organisations and consumer organisations.

The Advisory Group will also play a critical role in identifying emerging drug use patterns and informing future priority actions.

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