During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Thursday 29 July 2022, I asked the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic about drug checking/ pill testing at festivals in Queensland, and how this could save lives.
You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).
Mr BERKMAN: I have a question around harm reduction broadly, as I have had in previous years. In accordance with the Queensland alcohol and other drugs strategy’s stated objective to expand harm reduction in Queensland, can you outline what work has been done to support a rollout of drug checking, or pill testing as its often called, at events like musical festivals in Queensland?
Mr Frkovic: Certainly from my perspective, where I sit, I think this has been on the agenda and there has been discussion around this. I think there has been some progress in terms of being able to get what I am calling broadly some level of licensing for organisations to be able to do that. I am certainly not across the detail of that at this particular point in time, but there is certainly organisational capacity to do that at various festivals, but it is also a process of getting the licensing right for those organisations to be able to undertake that. That is my understanding of where things are up to at this particular point in time.
Mr BERKMAN: From your experience, and I guess more broadly your understanding of the ways people use drugs in Queensland and the risks that that creates, could a drug-checking program like
this potentially save lives?
Mr Frkovic: I think there is evidence, both from other jurisdictions in Australia and internationally, which would suggest that having drug-checking facilities, particularly temporary ones or even fixed sites, can contribute to saving lives.