Queensland To Roll Out Pill Testing Services As Early As Next Week

21 March 2024 | 8:50 am | Mary Varvaris

The Queensland government has invested almost $1 million over two years to deliver pill testing services across the state.

Pill Testing

Pill Testing (Source: Canva)

Queensland is set to roll out pill testing services “on an ongoing basis” as early as next week at south-east Queensland music festival Rabbits Eat Lettuce.

According to a press release, the Queensland government has invested almost $1 million over two years to deliver pill testing services across the state. Final planning is underway to present the services at the Easter long weekend Rabbits Eat Lettuce event.

Two providers are offering pill testing services – one a partnership between the Queensland Injectors Health Network, The Loop Australia and the Queensland Injectors Voice for Advocacy and Action – and another from Harm Reduction Australia (operating as Pill Testing Australia). The former offers fixed-site services at two south-east Queensland locations, including at least one festival event in 2024, while the latter will deliver its services in multiple festival-based locations in 2024 and 2025 after operating at festivals and in a fixed-site location in Canberra.

As the pill testing services continue, the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research will evaluate them and monitor their success rate via a state-wide monitoring framework.

Queensland’s pill testing services will be free, voluntary, and strictly confidential. They aim to assist punters in making informed decisions about their health and safety by having a qualified chemist test substances people intend to use.

Queensland follows the ACT as the second state in Australia to deliver pill testing services.

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Shannon Fentiman, the Queensland Minister for Health, Mental Health, and Ambulance Service, stated that the state’s rollout of pill testing services is about harm minimisation and reducing risks for Queenslanders.

Fentiman explained, “In 2021, there were 2,231 drug-induced deaths in Australia – the equivalent of five deaths a day. That’s 2,231 deaths too many, and we know this number will continue to grow if we don’t act now.

“I want to be clear that these services are all about harm minimisation; we don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments - or worse, losing their life.” Fentiman continued, “I look forward to working with the successful providers who I know bring extensive experience and expertise in delivering harm reduction services and working with people who use alcohol and other drugs.”

Cameron Francis, the Chief Executive Officer of The Loop Australia, added, “Drug-checking services provide information to help people make more careful decisions. For many people, it will be their first opportunity to talk to a health professional about their drug use and learn about the risks. This is the kind of commonsense approach we need right now.”

In October, Clowns lead vocalist Stevie Williams appealed to the Federal Government to legalise pill testing nationwide, writing in an open letter for The Music: “Pill testing allows people a choice to be educated and safe. It allows friends to encourage each other to promote safety and prevent drug-related deaths.”

Meanwhile, the Victorian state government insisted that it wouldn’t install pill testing services, with state Premier Jacinta Allan urging people to “just say no” to taking drugs in January. However, weeks later, Allan revealed that the government is seeking expert advice on pill testing.