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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 942 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

Trials are currently under way in Australia to test the effectiveness of slow-release oral morphine in the treatment of drug dependency. Information from Professor Jason White, who is supervising the trial of slow-release oral morphine in South Australia, indicates that at this stage outcomes are proving similar to those of methadone. Slow-release oral morphine will allow for once per day dosing rather than injections three times a day, as is currently the case with injectable morphine. However, at this stage the trials seem to be progressing slowly. There have been 10 participants in the South Australian trial, and the Victorian trial through Turning Point in Melbourne has had some difficulty in attracting participants.

A full report of the outcomes of each trial is not expected, unfortunately, until December this year. It would be sensible to await the outcomes of those trials before making premature decisions about extending our existing treatments. However, all potential pharmaco-therapies for opioid addiction will be considered by the Chief Health Officer under the terms of the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989. Amendments to that act are currently being explored to allow the Chief Health Officer this discretionary power if morphine proves to be a viable alternative to methadone, but that sort of legislation would have to come before the Assembly before we made any change. I will let members know how we are going with that.

Needlestick injuries

MR MOORE: Mr Rugendyke also asked me a question on 7 March about a needlestick injury that occurred in John Knight Memorial Park. He asked whether I could advise the Assembly whether the Chief Health Officer had reviewed the situation. Yes, the Chief Health Officer has reviewed the situation in relation to needlestick injuries within the ACT. In addition, the procedures and information available to members of the public experiencing needlestick continue to be reviewed locally and nationally. Procedures are updated as new information becomes available.

Both Calvary and the Canberra Hospital emergency departments have structures in place to meet the needs of people in these situations. A pack of information that deals with exposures to blood-borne viruses is available at both emergency departments and is used by staff to assess a person's level of exposure and to provide clear pathways to counselling. Counselling is available through the emergency departments, the Canberra Sexual Health Centre and the person's general practitioner. A pamphlet for members of the public experiencing needlesticks has been trialled at Calvary Hospital. I have one that I am happy to make available. The pamphlet is being revised based on the trial experience. The Chief Health Officer will continue to work with both hospitals to ensure that all people experiencing needlestick injuries receive appropriate care and counselling.

KLA housing study

MR MOORE: Mr Wood asked me a question on Wednesday, 7 March, about the KLA study of stock transferred from ACT Housing. He asked whether I would make the study available. I think that was the broad thrust of the question. The review commenced by KLA some time ago to evaluate and assist in informing the government of the outcomes of the pilot scheme to transfer 200 public housing properties to Community Housing Canberra Ltd. The review will also identify areas for improvement in order to help inform the government on how best to achieve the objective of transferring

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