‘This is about saving lives’: Pill testing trial confirmed to launch this summer
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25.06.2024

‘This is about saving lives’: Pill testing trial confirmed to launch this summer

Pill testing
Image: Wikimedia Commons
words by Dhika Maheswara

Premier Jacinta Allan has announced that the state will trial pill testing of illegal drugs this summer.

On Monday evening, Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan made a huge announcement across social media: trial pill testing of illicit drugs has been confirmed to go through in Victoria this summer. The decision has been welcomed by harm reduction advocates, who have called the decision a “big step forward”.

The Victorian government considered it a much-needed decision due to severe amounts of drug-related emergencies and overdoses in music festivals, as well as the rising influence of the global drug market. They believe that pill testing is the first important step to better this situation and that providing relevant health and safety information is integral to saving more lives in the future.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

 

It’s been announced that the trial will run for up to 18 months with mobile and fixed-site services to help facilitate the whole process.

With more drug overdoses recorded at festivals in the first three months of this year than during all of last year, the government has decided that a quick implementation of the mobile service is crucial. It begins this summer at the start of the festival season and will attend up to 10 music events throughout the whole trial period.

“Soon enough my own kids will be heading off to music festivals and parties with their mates, and like all parents, sometimes I catch myself thinking…what if the worst happens? What if they don’t come home?” the premier said, on the importance of safety in music events.

Delivered in partnership with a relevant health provider, the fixed site service will run with targeted hours and is based in an inner Melbourne area, close to nightlife and transport.  Trained workers and technical experts, as well as advanced drug-checking technology, will be present to service people in identifying capsules, powders, crystals, or liquids and identify harmful chemicals that can lead to death.

Just like in other Australian jurisdictions, Victoria will consult with police and other authorities to establish a fair and feasible arrangement that doesn’t deter people from using the service – and will ensure relevant guidelines and policies are communicated before the trial starts.

While the trial seeks to save lives, reduce drug harm, and improve public health at music festivals, it also aims to reduce pressure on frontline services and enhance Victoria’s drug surveillance capabilities. Pill testing offers real-time surveillance, boosting early detection and rapid assessment of new synthetic drugs hitting the streets.

They have clarified that this is not a trial for whether the service should exist long-term or not, but rather about finding out how to properly carry out something that will eventually be permanent. It’s also said to be the dawn for a larger plan, with the state’s multi-year $95 million Statewide Action Plan to reduce narcotic drug deaths and harm now underway.

For more information about the trial, watch Jacinta Allan’s announcement video here.