Monday, May 20, 2024

Queensland’s first pill testing site opens

Queensland’s first fixed-site pill testing service, CheQpoint, has opened its doors in Bowen Hills.

The drug checking services are free, voluntary, confidential and involve testing the substances a person intends to use and providing a health intervention aimed at reducing risks associated with illicit drug use by helping people make informed choices.

Following the success of the event-based service at the recent Rabbits Eat Lettice festival, this fixed pill testing service option marks an important next step in the government’s strategic approach to reducing illicit drug-related harms, said Premier, Steven Miles.

“Pill testing saves lives – it’s as simple as that,” the Premier said.

“We can’t live with our head in the sand. Instead, we are empowering Queenslanders to make informed choices about their health.

“Queenslanders of all ages tell me they are in support of this initiative, and we’ll pay close attention to its operation and success.

“I encourage any person thinking about taking illicit drugs to get them tested, understand the risk and make a choice.

“A single death from drug use is one too many. I’m confident this initiative will make a difference.”  

The CheQpoint drug checking service is a partnership between the Queensland Injectors Health Network, The Loop Australia, and the Queensland Injectors Voice for Advocacy and Action.

They will deliver fixed-site services at two locations in southeast Queensland, alongside at least one festival-based service in 2024.

“I commend the Queensland Government for their commitment to evidence-based responses to drug use,” said Queensland Injectors Health Network (QuIHN) Ltd CEO, Geoff Davey.

“We must be proactive to safeguard the health and well-being of our community.

“We are confident that our drug-checking service will empower individuals to make safer choices.”

The State Government has engaged the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research to evaluate the services and develop a statewide monitoring framework for drug checking.

Harm Reduction Australia (operating as Pill Testing Australia) has also been engaged to provide a number of festival-based services throughout 2024 and 2025 and delivered the service at the Rabbits Eat Lettuce festival.

At the festival, a total of 257 festivalgoers visited the drug checking service over the four days. Some attendees came individually, while others attended in groups.

The average age of patrons who used the service at the festival was between 28-30 years old.

Planning for the second fixed site is underway and will involve co-design processes with people with lived experience of substance use, potential service users and other key stakeholders.

Drug checking services will also be available at another festival in May, with further details to be released shortly.

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