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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (5 August) . . Page.. 3594..

Incorporated document

Attachment 1

Document incorporated by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of Ms Tucker

Drugs of Dependence (Syringe Vending Machines) Amendment Bill 2004-4 August 2004

Speech to be tabled (by leave of the Assembly) by Brendan Smyth MLA, as Ms Tucker is absent from the evening session due to illness

The Greens are pleased to support this bill. The bill is consistent with the Standing Committee on Health's recommendation to install injecting equipment vending machines across the ACT, out of our inquiry into Access to needles and syringes by intravenous drug users.

It will provide 24-hour access to clean injecting equipment and information on drug and alcohol support services. This is being established on a trial basis, with close monitoring of issues like disposal of sharps in the area nearby.

This is only one step, and it is part of the broader work of harm minimisation to tackle the problems of drug use in our society. It works alongside things like education, effective mental health services and particularly dual diagnosis, and a range of supportive rehabilitative services and settings.

Facilitating access to clean needles and syringes for injecting drug users reduces the sharing of needles, and so reduces the risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

In the ACT there are between 100 and 200 people living with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 5,000 people living with Hep C - a 45% increase over the past 4 years.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that 60-80% of IV drug users are Hep C positive and access to clean injecting equipment is vital in containing the spread of this disease. This is important for people across the whole of the community.

Vending machines are an addition to the face-to-face provision of injecting equipment. It is very important that vending machines do not replace the face-to-face contact, which of course provides the opportunity to chat, and if a person is open to it, there is the opportunity for referral to other services. It's also an opportunity for developing relationships between health carers and drug users. We know that services need to be ready when a person who has problems with drugs is ready themselves - there is a window.

However, the experience overseas - syringe vending machines are used effectively in Europe - is that machine dispensing reaches IV drug users not normally reached by other syringe exchange programs.

ACTCOSS support the move, saying that "this is an absolutely necessary condition for the minimisation of harm from injecting drug use in the Territory"

What we as an Assembly need to be vigilant about is that vending machines do not lead to cuts in the other services. I am concerned that there is not funding for

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