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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2615..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I seek leave to have the introductory speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The incorporated document appears at attachment 5 on page 2745.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Drugs of Dependence (Syringe Vending Machines) Amendment Bill 2004

Mr Corbell , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.18): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Following the government's preliminary consideration of the draft ACT alcohol, tobacco and other drugs strategy, members will be aware that a quarter of a million dollars in drug and alcohol initiatives, including a trial of syringe vending machines in the ACT, was announced in December 2003. As members will also be aware, the government's decision to trial vending machines is consistent with the Standing Committee on Health's recommendation to install injecting equipment vending machines across the ACT.

The installation of vending machines will provide the ACT with 24-hour access to clean injecting equipment. The government proposes to set up the vending machines outside the Belconnen, Civic, Woden, Tuggeranong and possibly Narrabundah health centres as part of a 12-month trial. A number of measures will be implemented to reduce the likelihood of inappropriate access to the machines and their contents. These include charging a small fee for the needles and syringes, locating the machines at a height that will minimise the possibility of children putting money into the machines, and covering the machines with a steel mesh security grill.

It is proposed that a range of information, including where to dispose of the Fitpacks, who to contact regarding syringes that have been inappropriately disposed of, and contact details for drug and alcohol support services, will be provided on the Fitpacks. Sharing needles has consistently been found to be associated with hepatitis C transmission among intravenous drug users worldwide. It is currently estimated that, here in the ACT alone, there are over 2,500 people living with hepatitis C.

While the ACT already has a comprehensive needle and syringe program in place, injecting drug users in the ACT are currently without 24-hour access to clean injecting equipment. In addition, large parts of Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and inner Belconnen have no after-hours access, and limited access on weekends. If injecting drug users are

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