20 March 2024

RACGP applauds Queensland pill testing announcement

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed Queensland becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to institute an ongoing drug testing or “pill testing” service and urged other states and territories to follow suit.

It comes following the Government announcing that pill testing will now be supported on an ongoing basis. $1 million will be invested by the Miles Government over the next two years and final planning is underway to deliver an event-based service at the Rabbits Eats lettuce festival over Easter. The services will also provide health interventions delivered by trained health and harm reduction works to change behaviours and reduce the risk of harm.

Last year, the RACGP welcomed Queensland becoming Australia’s second jurisdiction after the ACT to give pill testing the green light. Yesterday, the College strongly urged the Victorian Government to act on multiple coronial recommendations and introduce a pill testing trial.

RACGP Queensland Deputy Chair, Dr Aileen Traves, said that Queensland was leading the nation.

“This is a momentous day,” she said.

“Supporting pill testing at fixed and mobile locations, including events such as music festivals, on an ongoing basis is an Australian-first. Well done to the Queensland Government for having the courage and commitment to make this happen. Pill testing is not about condoning illicit drug use. Far from it, these services constitute an intelligent harm reduction measure proven around the world to save lives. We shouldn’t pretend that we can ever completely stamp out illicit drug use, or pretend that it doesn’t happen. It does happen, and we should act to minimise the harm and keep people as safe as possible.

“Pill testing services also allow trained staff to talk to people using illicit drugs free of judgment about why they are using drugs and explain the many dangers. What they find is that many people who submit drugs for testing discard them when they find out what they contain.”

RACGP Alcohol and Other Drug spokesperson, Dr Hester Wilson, said that other jurisdictions should follow Queensland’s lead.

“To all state and territory governments my question is a simple one – what are you waiting for?”

“Queensland and the ACT are taking the lead, now it is time for you to follow. How many more senseless deaths do we have to witness before politicians come to their senses and introduce pill testing. We have had so many experts come forward and so many coronial recommendations backing pill testing. We know what to do, it’s time to make it happen.

“Overdose deaths do not happen to ‘other people’. This could be your son or daughter, or friend, or colleague. I know governments are concerned about accusations that they are soft on drugs or something similar, but it is time to finally act and save lives. At the end of the day – every person’s life matters.”

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