Pill testing one step closer to reality in Queensland

Queensland pill testing centres could open their doors from the end of this year, according to new documents issued by the state government.
when will pill testing open

The Queensland Government has provided more detail on its pill testing rollout, seven months after it approved plans for the service.

In its latest update, the Government outlined a timeline to open pill testing sites, aiming to give Queenslanders access to the service from December.

It also confirmed the rollout will include two fixed pill testing sites, and one mobile site that can travel to events like music festivals.

The context

The Queensland Government approved plans for pill testing in February as a harm reduction measure.

It followed a push for government action after the drug-related deaths of six young people at music festivals from December 2017 to January 2019.

When will pill testing open?

The Queensland Government has issued a call-out for operators who can deliver pill testing to apply via a formal tender process.

Queensland Health said the pill testing sites should be located close to a night-life precinct and public transport. This could include Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

However, regional areas including Far North Queensland and the state’s Central West were also listed as possible sites for pill testing services.

The mobile (temporary) site will travel to one-off events, such as at festivals or during ‘Schoolies’.

The government plans to open sites by December, in time for summer music festivals.

How will it work?

Pill testing operators can’t report potential drug users to the police.

They also won’t be allowed to tell people that using a drug will be safe.

Anyone looking to use a pill testing site must be able to do so confidentially, and for free.

All centres will include health education material aimed at addressing dangerous drug use behaviours.

Only qualified chemists will be allowed to test drugs. Harm reduction workers will oversee the rollout of drug education material.

The introduction of pill testing services won’t change police powers around the possession or supply of illegal drugs.

Other pill testing examples

The ACT is the only other jurisdiction to implement pill testing in Australia.

A recent report from ACT Health and the Australian National University analysed six months of pill testing results. It found half the drugs tested contained a substance “not expected” by the service user.

Users were four times more likely to report that they would “definitely not” use the drug based on that finding.

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