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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 457 asked in the Legislative Council on 18 May 2022 by Hon Sophia Moermond

Minister responding: Hon R.H. Cook
Parliament: 41 Session: 1

Answered on

DRUGS — SUPPORT SERVICES

457. Hon SOPHIA MOERMOND to the Leader of the House representing the Minister for Health:

People who inject drugs are among the most marginalised and disadvantaged drug users in our society today. They experience multiple negative health consequences, including a higher risk of fatal overdoses, and are disproportionately affected by bloodborne infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. These individuals, who deserve our support, are not usually represented in this place, and I know that many people in society have little sympathy for the plight of addicted injecting drug users, but it is not an issue we can just sweep under the carpet.

(1) What support services are currently available for injecting drug users in WA and what pathways for better physical and mental health care do these services offer?

(2) What is the annual budget allocated by this government for support services for injecting drug users?

(3) Is the minister currently looking at any models for the introduction of a medically supervised injecting centre in Western Australia, as has successfully operated in New South Wales for decades and in Victoria for the last three years?

(4) Has the minister or, to her knowledge, her predecessor Minister Cook had any discussions with Hon Martin Foley, the health minister in the Victorian government, who has been responsible for the highly successful introduction of the supervised injecting centre in Melbourne that has saved hundreds of lives since it started operations?

(5) If no to (3) and (4), will Minister Sanderson consider the introduction of a medically supervised injecting centre in Western Australia to help save lives; and, if not, why not?

The PRESIDENT: Before I give the call to the Leader of the House, I need to point out that that question is seriously, seriously in breach of standing order 105. There was both an unacceptably long preamble and a significant number of questions contained in the question. It was neither concise nor to the point, which I would like it to be. I have the capacity to rule that question out of order, but I will see whether the minister has an answer that she is prepared to give, considering the length of that question. I put you on notice that the next time that happens, it will definitely be ruled out of order. Leader of the House, do you have a concise response?

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

As concise as it can be. It is actually shorter than the question, so, yes, I do. Thank you for your guidance, President.

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1) All alcohol and drug services funded by the Mental Health Commission are available for injecting drug users. Services include residential programs, telephone support and counselling services, outpatient counselling and support for individuals and their families, and transitional support services for people exiting residential programs. The provision of safe-use education is integrated into all alcohol and other drug treatment programs. A significant percentage of people seeking treatment for alcohol and drug use have a history of injecting drug use.

The Mental Health Commission funds Peer Based Harm Reduction WA to provide the take-home naloxone program—THN program. The program provides overdose prevention education and access to naloxone free-of-charge to people who may be, or come into contact with people who may be, at risk of opioid overdose, harm and/or death.

(2) In 2021–22, the Mental Health Commission will provide $76.2 million for alcohol and drug treatment services.

(3) No.

(4) The minister meets with interstate health ministers regularly.

(5) No. Supervised injecting centres were considered by the Methamphetamine Action Plan Taskforce and found not warranted as a harm reduction priority.