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Estimates: Question about Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) in Queensland prisons

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Thursday 12 August 2021, I asked about access to Opioid Substitution Therapy in Queensland prisons. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you, Chair. I have a question in relation to opioid substitution therapy and the program being delivered in collaboration with Queensland Health in Queensland prisons. Commissioner, can you tell me how many new participants are in the opioid institution therapy program from the five prisons that were included in phase 1 of that program?

Commissioner Stewart: I thank the member for that very important question. The opioid substitution treatment program is a program that came out of the QPSR—the Sofronoff work—and is something that has been very successfully rolled out at this point in time. Again, we partner with Queensland Health in relation to that. It is a Queensland Health-led program that we provide support to at this point in time. As you said, it has been rolled out at Brisbane women’s, Townsville men’s and women’s, Lotus Glen, Numinbah and Southern Queensland correctional centres. As at 30 June, 210 prisoners were participating in the program at those sites. The other change in relation to the program has been that long-acting injectables have started to be introduced in relation to it, which is a much safer and more effective way of running the OST program, again, through Queensland Health. We provide our support to them.

Mr BERKMAN: I appreciate the response. I am trying to draw out how many participants in the program are new participants in opioid substitution treatments as compared with those who entered prison while participating in one of these programs? Are those programs made available to people who have not had access or who have not been participating outside when they go into prison?

Commissioner Stewart: Yes. It is more a part for Queensland Health in relation to answering that, but we do everything that we can to support people as they come through. In relation to the numbers of people who have been in the program, that would be a matter more for Queensland Health rather than our agency to answer.

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