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Motion - International Overdose Awareness Day

Richard Di Natale 31 Aug 2016

I move: That the Senate— (a) notes that:

(i)   today is the 15th annual International Overdose Awareness Day, commemorating all those who have died or been seriously injured due to drug overdose, and

(ii)   six people lose their lives to preventable overdose in Australia each day; and

(b) calls on the Government to address the rising rates of harm associated with drug use by implementing and appropriately resourcing evidence-based harm reduction policies, including:

(i)   greater access to needle and syringe programs across the country with an urgent roll-out of trials inside prisons,

(ii)   expanded access to medically supervised injecting facilities across Australia,

(iii)   promoting awareness of the life-saving opioid reversal drug Naloxone, and highlighting its availability over the counter in pharmacies, and

(iv)   working with state and territory governments to cease the use of drug sniffer dogs at festivals and urgently introduce trials of pill testing for the upcoming festivals season.

I firstly want to say that I understand that Senator Lambie's comments are made from personal experience, and I want to acknowledge that and acknowledge the harm that comes with the abuse of illicit drugs. It is an area in which I have worked, and my motion here today is informed by evidence. Sadly, we have too many young people dying from overdoses, overdoses that are entirely preventable. That is why we need to have harm reduction framing our response and it is why we need to have some courage in this place to listen to the evidence and to follow the evidence. Sadly, drug sniffer dogs have been shown to encourage more harmful drug use. We have people who take increased quantities of drugs before going to festivals and, when they see a sniffer dog, they often ingest larger, more harmful quantities of drugs in order to escape arrest. That is the consequence of sniffer dogs. We need to be guided by the evidence on this front.


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