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Harm Reduction Program

What is Harm Reduction?

Australia’s response to drugs and drug use, particularly illicit drug use, is called harm minimisation. Harm minimisation includes supply reduction, demand reduction, and harm reduction.

Supply reduction is mainly found in law enforcement and border control to prevent drugs being transported, made and sold.

Demand reduction is mainly education and treatment programs that aim to stop people wanting to buy and use drugs.

Harm reduction approaches try to prevent harm from and reduce negative impacts if harms occur when people use legal and illegal drugs.

Australia introduced harm reduction in the 1980s. The first needle and syringe program (NSP) opened in Sydney in 1986 and the rest of Australia following soon after. NSP and other harm reduction services are now found in all cities and most regional areas of the country. Harm reduction is an effective, evidence-based, pragmatic approach to drug use.

People use drugs for many different reasons. They use them for fun, to relax, out of curiosity, for pain relief, and to cope with physical, psychological and emotional pain. They use drugs for the benefits they want to experience, not for the problems that sometimes happen.

Harm reduction services include:

  • Needle and syringe programs (NSP)
  • Peer education
  • Medically supervised injecting facilities
  • Overdose training programs
  • Pill testing.

Harm reduction receives the least amount of funding but is extremely effective. It is estimated that for every $1 spent on NSP in Australia, $27 is saved in health costs1. Many thousands of HIV and hepatitis C transmissions have been prevented because of these programs and people who use the programs have more access to health care and other social services.

What Harm Reduction Services are there at Star Health?

Star Health has had harm reduction services for many years. The Alcohol and other Drug program The services we have for people who use drugs in the southern bayside area of Melbourne are:

These services provide non-judgemental information, support and resources to people who use drugs, and people in the community who want to know more about how to support their friends and family members.

[1]  Return on investment report – NSP 2009