28th November 2023 12:50
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan) (12:50): 
My constituency question is for the Minister for Health. My constituent is a drug and alcohol support worker in the Western Metro Region who is extremely concerned that the shortage of naloxone in my region. Naloxone is a life-saving medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.

The organisation my constituent works for has signed up to the take-home naloxone program. Under this program community support services are basically able to distribute naloxone for free without a prescription alongside pharmacies; however, the rollout of this program appears to have stalled amid a shortage of naloxone across the state.

With over 549 overdose deaths last year in this state – a figure guaranteed to increase with the arrival of fentanyl on our shores – my constituent feels the Victorian government is not responding to this crisis with the urgency that it would deal with other causes of death. My constituent asks: what is the government doing to address the naloxone shortage and speed up the rollout of the take-home naloxone program in the Western Metro Region?

Written Answer
Received: 6 February 2024
Hon. Ingrid Stitt MP
(Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs)

I thank the member for his question. This question has been referred to me by the Minister for Health as it falls within my portfolio responsibilities.

Every drug overdose is a tragedy that no loved one should ever have to experience.

This is why the Allan Labor Government is continuing to strengthen essential harm reduction initiatives through Victoria’s new Take-Home Naloxone Program. This program, which commenced on 30 November 2023, will increase community access to the life-saving drug naloxone making it more readily available to help those experiencing an overdose.

The Victorian Take-Home Naloxone Program allows eligible workers in approved organisations to supply naloxone at no cost to people who are at risk of, or who may be more likely to witness, an opioid overdose. This includes carers, families or friends of people who use opioids.

Organisations approved to supply naloxone in the Western Metropolitan and CBD area include:

  • Cohealth – Health Works (Footscray)
  • Cohealth – Braybrook Community Centre (Braybrook)
  • Cohealth – Niddrie (Niddrie)
  • Youth Projects – FootPatrol (CBD mobile service).

To help make sure Naloxone gets to those who need it most, the Victorian program also allows for ‘peer’ distribution, meaning Naloxone can be collected for or given to another person for the purpose of opioid overdose reversal.

Naloxone will also continue to be available through existing channels, including over the counter at a local pharmacy. This includes pharmacies registered with the national take-home naloxone program which enables the provision of naloxone for free and without a prescription.

The Allan Labor Government is committed to reducing harm experienced by people who use alcohol and other drugs. The 2023-24 Victorian Budget invested $372 million in Victoria’s alcohol and other drug services – representing a doubling of investment since 2014-15.

We will continue to work to tackle the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs and help people make meaningful and lasting changes in their lives. This includes our ongoing commitment to life-saving harm reduction initiatives.


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