Our Vision: Communities are well-informed about the harms of illicit drugs and empowered with anti-drug strategies
1 November 2017
Drug Free Australia is calling on Daniel Andrews to do a double backflip on
the decision to fund a drug injecting room in Richmond, Melbourne. Initially
the Premier was opposed to it, and for good reason. Now he has made a
curious backflip – anything to do with the forthcoming Northcote byelection,
where Labor is in a battle with the Greens? This is a very slippery
slope for the future of Victoria.
According to Gary Christian: “Drug Free Australia’s research has clearly
demonstrated that the Kings Cross injecting room has not met its original
objectives. At a cost of a minimum of $2.7 million a year it is statistically
not capable of saving even one life per year, and has been a poor gateway
to treatment, with very few referrals.
Jo Baxter, Executive Director, Drug Free Australia asks:
What is the greater good?
If we are all agreed that the primary objective is to assist people to become well,
and no longer addicted to their drug/s, what is the better option?
1. Provision of a range of rehabilitation services to those affected by
intravenous drug addiction that will give them a realistic chance to get
off their drugs and lead a full and productive life, including more
residential rehab facilities with 24/7 support. (Stats show this is a more
effective use of taxpayer funds)
2. A Centre that forms a Shop Front that, promotes the illegal practices of
illicit drug procurement, trafficking and use and sends a message that
illegal drugs are condoned by our law-makers. A Centre that is NOT
24/7. A Centre that creates a ‘honey pot effect’ as an attraction for drug
dealers and potentially new users. A Centre that allows opportunity for
experimentation with higher drug doses (because of its purported ‘safer’
A further important question is: how will the Richmond Injecting Room in Victoria
prevent drug use? It is to be located next door to a Primary School!
More needs to be done to educate our children, families and communities
about the harms of illicit, toxic drugs that are currently rampant in Australia.
More effective recovery-based treatment is needed. Not drug promotion.
(Research backgrounders available on request).

'My Story’ saw a group of five Normanton community members share their story of hardship and determination

on video to overcome their personal difficulties, as well as share their messages to empower and inspire others.

The ‘My Story’ project is part of a Mount Isa Police District strategy to address attitudes and beliefs about the drug Ice.

Those featured in the video were asked to tell their story and how drugs and/or alcohol impacted their life. Each of them were able to recall a turning point that caused them to turn to drugs and alcohol. They told their story about why they chose to quit, and gave a powerful and unique message to others to stay away from drug and alcohol dependence.

You can help by sharing their video on social media. Mount Isa Police and Normanton community encourage other communities to get involved in sharing their story. Contact Mount Isa Police to get involved in the ‘My Story’ project.

Read More

Check out the ICE Library


Injecting room will cost $5.6 million per life saved

A proposed Melbourne injecting room will inevitably present similar costs to the Sydney facility, which saved the lives of only 4 opiate users in its first 9 years of operation while referring a tiny percentage to recovery.

In Australia there is one opiate overdose fatality for every 110,000 injections, but the Kings Cross injecting room supervises only 58,000 opiate injections each year.[i]  These 58,000 injections fall well short of the 110,000 injections that must be supervised before the facility can claim it saved the one life that would otherwise have been lost.  It takes the Sydney facility almost two years and $5.6 million[ii] to save a single life.

The ratio of deaths to injections is well documented in this country where up to 85% of Australia’s opiate overdose deaths occur amongst long-term dependent users[iii] who inject multiple times daily, rather than amongst casual users.  The many studies of overdose deaths amongst Australian opiate users strongly agree that one out of every 100 dependent opiate users die each year from overdose.[iv],[v],[vi],[vii]  This means that if 100 dependent opiate users were all housed in the one charity-run housing facility, each injecting an average 3 times daily,[viii],[ix] one would likely die each year.  This group of 100 users would between them inject around 110,000 times each year,[x] with only one injection in that 110,000 being fatal.  The Sydney injecting room supervises 160 opiate injections per day despite having capacity for more than 300.  This under-utilisation only adds to its inordinately high costs for little benefit.

Alternately, the $5.6 million spent to save a single life in Kings Cross will fund 950 Naltrexone implants per year.  The Western Australian government has funded implants in that State for the last 19 years, presently contributing $3 million annually.  Implant Naltrexone constantly resident in the blood works like Naloxone which nullifies any effect of opiates.  Of those 950 implant patients, 9-10 (1 in every 100) would have otherwise died.  Furthermore, the person whose life was saved in the Sydney facility today may die tomorrow injecting at home, while the same does not occur with active implants.[xi] 

For the cost of just one life saved in a proposed North Richmond injecting room, implants will save at least nine times as many, something Victorian coroners need to consider.  Ultimately there is no contest between the two when compassion for the lives of Melbourne’s opiate users is uppermost.  A Victorian injecting room will be a waste of public money.

Gary Christian­­­­­


Drug Free Australia

0422 163 141



[i] [ix] https://uniting.org/who-we-help/for-adults/sydney-medically-supervised-injecting-centre/what-the-uniting-sydney-msic-does shows an average 180 injections per day and the last government-funded evaluation shows that more than 10% of injections are not opiates - http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/programs/da/Documents/msic-kpmg.pdf p 112

[ii] The Sydney injecting room spends about $3 million annually on its operation, apart from other side-programs funded by the NSW Department of Health – see http://www.justicehealth.nsw.gov.au/publications/201516NSWHealthAnnualReport.pdf p 108

[iii] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/Mono.46.PDF p 14 This is a Federal Government Monograph reviewing the extant literature on heroin overdose

[iv] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/NDARC%20monograph%2044.pdf  This was the study that calculated the number of heroin users in Australia for 1997, where one of its calculations estimated the number of users by multiplying deaths for that year by 100

[v] https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12954-015-0089-3 see Abstract

[vi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/27021806/

[vii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16735295

[viii] https://uniting.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/136438/MSIC-final-evaluation-report-2003.pdf p 58 The first government-funded evaluation of the Sydney facility, done mostly by NSW University teaching faculty colleagues of its then medical Director, Dr Ingrid van Beek, noted that dependent users injected ‘at least’ 3 times daily

[ix] https://drugs-forum.com/threads/how-many-times-a-day-do-other-daily-addicts-use.90306/

[x] That is, 100 injectors injecting ‘at least’ 3 times daily for 365 days annually = 109,500 injections

[xi] http://www.journalofsubstanceabusetreatment.com/article/S0740-5472(07)00249-8/abstract) note no deaths during the active implant stage – Drug Free Australia thereby recommends Naltrexone implant maintenance as an alternative to injecting rooms, where users will become abstinent at their own pace


4 Realities you may not have considered!
Pill Testing may sound like a compassionate option…but what really happens 
First principle of consumption: accessibility, acceptability and availability all increase consumption.
• Pill Testing will be seen by many young people as a clear endorsement of drug use. It sends a message that
illicit drugs are acceptable and ‘safe’.
Outcome? - This gives permission for young people to engage in an otherwise illegal act and worse,
harmful drug use. It is very likely to encourage use.
• Pill Testing facilitates the taking of illicit drugs by equipping young people to consume illicit drugs.
Outcome? - More lives are put at risk with a belief that the drug they are taking is somehow ‘safe’ after
testing. However, there is no ‘safe’ level of drug use for the developing brain or at any age.
• Pill Testing does not (and cannot) guarantee that the drug being taken will not cause any physical/mental
harm or death to the individual consumer.
• Pill Testing cannot account for the individual’s physiological response to each drug i.e. allergies, levels
of toxins or bio-chemical and/or genetic variants etc…
Outcome? - More young people risking harm to their bodies and brains while potentially destroying their
lives, and their families through another ‘facilitated’ ill-informed decision to consume illicit drugs.
The potential outcomes?
• Young people damaging or even destroying their brain function during a critical stage of brain
development (up to age 25-28).
• Increasing numbers of young people developing depression and psychosis and risk of suicide amongst
young people.
• Increased risk of family violence and resulting impact on interpersonal, social and family relationships.
• Increase an individuals co-morbidity, entering addiction cycles and engaging in drug related crimes in
pursuit of funding their dependency.
Pill Testing that is permitted and/or approved by government implicates government as an enabler and
endorser of illicit drug use.
• Will governments endorse a practice that will facilitate harm to its citizens, their health, productivity and
well-being? Will taxpayers have to wear this cost, particularly in relation to lives lost? Who can place a
price on that potential outcome?
• Will event managers be liable? Who will wear the impending litigation from individuals and families
impacted by potential physical, mental harms and even cessation of lives post consumption after ‘pill
testing’ endorsements?
• Will insurance providers cover the risk of death and permanent injury costs as a result of damage from
one incident or subsequent uptake of illicit drug use and abuse after Pill Testing at an event?
• Will young individuals be required to sign disclaimers on potential harm to their health or even death,
after having a pill tested prior to consumption? What is the effect on those under 18 – the children?
• Frontline service providers are already stretched to capacity and the need for many more facilities and
services is already paramount. Are we able to accommodate more individuals and families needing
assistance and support due to a decision to endorse uptake of illicit drugs?




   Drug Free Australia                                                                                                            

Promoting Illicit Drug Prevention Initiatives Nationally


Important Brief to the Australian Community and Parliamentarian


Australia21’s Push for Decriminalisation of Drugs is Disingenuous

The current push for the decriminalisation of all illegal drugs by representatives of Australia21 (including Jeff Kennett)[i],[ii] is entirely disingenuous; it does not accord with Australia21’s main objective of legalising all illegal drugs.

Australians clearly do not want drugs legalised.  The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of 25,000 Australia[iii], [iv] indicates that:

  • 99% of Australians do not approve the regular use of heroin, speed and ice
  • 98% do not approve use of cocaine and ecstasy 
  • 90% do not approve of cannabis use 
  • 93-95% do not want use of heroin, speed, ice, ecstasy or cocaine legalised
  • 74% do not want cannabis legalised

Australia21’s most recent 2017 report[v] cites various police administrators and judges who believe that the war on drugs has failed and say alternatives need to be found. 

Drug Free Australia’s response is that these Australia21 representatives of law enforcement and the judiciary appear to ignore the fact that:

  1. Australia has never had a war on drugs.  For more than 30 years Australia’s Drug Policy has done everything to facilitate drug use  – i.e. needle and syringe programs, methadone maintenance  and injecting rooms
  2. Claiming  that we are failing with our policing of drugs is the same as saying that the war on speeding has failed, as drivers continue to speed. Should we then legalise speeding?  The same is true of most crime . . . stealing, rape . . . police never seem to eradicate them, but they create an important deterrent.

Australia21’s central rationale for requesting regulation/legalisation of all drugs is that criminals will be put out of business.[vi]  They claim that legalisation erases the profits for criminals selling drugs.  But research shows that decriminalisation still maintains a black market to supply drugs for users, because demand increases under decriminalised regimes.[vii]  Alternately, compulsory rehabilitation of drug users as in Sweden, which moved from the highest levels of drug use in the 1970s to the lowest in the OECD by the 1990s[viii], reduces drug use AND criminal supply.  Australian legislators can transform this country by implementing compulsory rehab in place of jail. Enhancing our state drug diversion processes would go a long way to support this, rather than giving up on people who suffer addiction.


[i] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-20/jeff-kennett-backs-drug-decimalisation-in-australia/8369970

[ii] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-20/former-top-cops-want-white-market-in-illicit-drugs/8369102

[iii] http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129549469&tab=3 – Policy and Attitudes Table 9.6

[iv] http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129549469&tab=3 - Policy and Attitudes Table 9.18

[v] http://australia21.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Can-Australia-respond-to-drugs-more-effectively-and-safely-Roundtable-report-Final.pdf

[vi] http://australia21.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Can-Australia-respond-to-drugs-more-effectively-and-safely-Roundtable-report-Final.pdf see recommendation 2, page 8 – “The policy should include substantially reducing, if not eliminating, the size of the criminal marketplace by incrementally moving psychoactive drugs from the black market to the ‘white’ market. This should be accomplished by regulating and, where possible, taxing the supply of currently illicit drugs, . . .”

[vii] https://drugfree.org.au/images/13Books-FP/pdf/Decriminalisation.pdf

[viii] https://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/Swedish_drug_control.pdf

Gary Christian­­­­­


Drug Free Australia

0422 163 141









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