On the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day, Greens spokesperson for health, Dr Richard Di Natale is urging the CPSU to reconsider its position on safe needle and syringe exchange in ACT prisons.
“Needle and syringe exchange is one of Australia’s great public health successes,” said Senator Di Natale.
“It has tri-partisan support with Australian Governments investing $130 million in Needle and Syringe Programs between 1991 and 2000.”
“This resulted in the prevention of an estimated 25,000 cases of HIV and 21,000 cases of hepatitis C among injecting drug users. The savings to the health system in avoided treatment costs over a lifetime are estimated to be between $2.4 and $7.7 billion.”
“Prisoners are entitled to the same health care provided to members of the general community and this includes access to harm reduction programs that save lives.”
Senator Di Natale fully understands and respects the safety concerns that the CPSU has for its members.
“The safety of prison officers is critical and experience overseas has shown that allowing clean needle exchange in prisons actually provides a safer working environment for staff.”
Needle and syringe exchange programs have been backed by eminent public health experts including Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC CBE and Nobel Prize (Medicine) Laureate Professor Peter Doherty AC.
“I hope the ACT government will stand firm in its support of needle and syringe exchange in prisons. Great Australians like Sir Gustav Nossal and Professor Doherty understand that it will save lives,” said the Senator.
Media contact: Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600