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Speaking on healthcare (acquisition of property) Amendment Bill

29 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Health, on the topic of pill testing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I recently visited Australia's first fixed-site pill testing service, which is based in the ACT, known as the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service. The program was a six-month trial, initiated by the ACT government, to address harm reduction associated with drug use. The service analysed the contents of drugs to help service users understand unknown and potentially dangerous substances. Drug checking facilities have been used internationally since the 1990s and are available in 20 countries within Europe, the Americas and New Zealand.

In the six-month trial that began on 21 July and ceased on 20 October, CanTEST tested 232 samples and staff provided 294 alcohol and other drug interventions. After receiving their results, 43 samples were voluntarily discarded by service users. The trial also uncovered new drugs that were previously unknown. The South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS) has stated that pill testing and drug testing reduces harm by reducing immediate risk of contaminants, expanding opportunities for education and providing an early warning system for new dangers associated with drug use.

Pill testing has been supported by organisations such as the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of South Australia and the Royal Australian College of Physicians. My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: does the government agree that pill testing is an effective harm minimisation measure and, in the lead-up to the festival season, will the government follow the lead of the ACT and investigate pill testing here in South Australia?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question and will pass on those questions to my colleague in another place and bring back a reply.