Illicit Drug Use

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:34): I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Newland:

That this house—

(a) acknowledges the state government's strong focus on preventing the uptake of illicit drug use, reducing the harmful effects of licit and illicit drugs and offering pathways out of harmful drug use;

(b) supports the state government's position against pill testing at events;

(c) notes that there is no pill testing regime that can test against the range of chemicals people might be ingesting;

(d) recognises that there are a range of alternative strategies that can improve safety and reduce health harms at public events;

(e) supports the safer music event guidelines to improve safety and reduce harms at events; and

(f) expresses its appreciation to emergency services, including SA Ambulance Service and SA Police, for their efforts to improve safety and reduce harms at events resulting from the harmful effects of licit and illicit drug use.

We certainly made quite a range of election commitments in this field in the lead-up to the March 2018 state election. The then Marshall Liberal opposition at the time committed, when in government, to the following drug-related policy initiatives:

a drug addiction rehabilitation program in the Riverland, the Matrix program;

zero tolerance for drugs in prisons;

limiting the number of drug diversions;

keeping penalties in line with community expectations; and

providing mandatory drug treatment for young people.

Our government, the Marshall Liberal government, is committed to improving health and wellbeing outcomes for all South Australians who are experiencing harm from illicit drugs. We will and we are facilitating new pathways into treatment, including through youth treatment orders and providing a legislative framework for young people with acute substance abuse problems with support for families who are struggling to have their children engage in treatment through voluntary mechanisms.

We have implemented a pilot of the Matrix drug treatment program in the Riverland. I want to talk about the Matrix program, which is an intensive outpatient addiction recovery program that provides group-based structured education and cognitive behaviour therapy for methamphetamine and IV heroin users across 20 weeks. The program requires weekly attendance in order to maintain focus and support. Groups are run by trained psychologists and co-facilitated by a recovered peer with lived experience. Delivered by PsychMed, this is one of a suite of alcohol and other drug treatment services commissioned by the Adelaide Primary Health Network.

Certainly in recent days we have seen it announced that the Murray Mallee General Practice Network has $1.5 million in federal funding for drug and alcohol treatment services, some of which they will use to fund the Matrix program in Murray Bridge. It is anticipated that this program will start in Murray Bridge, in my electorate of Hammond, in August or September this year.

This program was first used in the United States. It has been used in the Riverland, and it is good to see that federal funding is being made available to bring the program into Murray Bridge. Right across the state the scourge of drugs does not pick and choose where you live, whether it is in urban Adelaide or our bigger towns and cities. It is a scourge right across the regions, and we need to do everything we can to save everyone, especially our youth.

In regard to pill testing, on 29 April 2018 the Australian Capital Territory government permitted Australia's first legal pill testing trial at the Groovin the Moo festival in Canberra. At that trial festival-goers were able to have their illegal drugs tested for chemicals by the independent consortium STA-SAFE. The trial did, as has been mentioned, raise a number of legal issues and uncertainty, including concerns over the legal consequences for patrons participating in the pill testing, as well as the legal liability of those facilitating and conducting the testing.

As the minister explained before, pill testing normalises the behaviour of people being able to take pills to events. They think, 'Oh, well, we will just get it tested.' From what I understand, we find that the evil people, the drug pushers, will blend materials. They can have terrible materials in there. Apart from the drugs themselves being totally harmful, the other additives that are put in these pills can cause quite a bit of harm.

I have raised this discussion at home. As the father of an 18 year old who goes out occasionally in Adelaide and around the place in the regions as well, I can say that it is not just music festivals where drugs are peddled. They are peddled on the streets, on the weekends, etc. I have a 15 year old as well, and I have given my boys a fairly stern talking to. They may not want to listen to their old man, but they do occasionally. I said, 'If you ever get involved, just hope the police catch you before I do.'

It is something that we have to be aware of. We cannot bury our head in the sand, but we do need to use legal outcomes to get the right outcomes. I have heard the arguments for pill testing, and I certainly do not believe they stack up. We need to use legal outcomes, and we can use them with educational and other programs to make sure that we keep kids and others safe.

The Marshall Liberal government is committed to working in an informed and focused way to address the wideranging community impacts that the misuse of alcohol and other drugs have on health, justice and child safety. It is important that we do recognise the progress that has been made in reducing the harm caused by substance abuse. Without that acknowledgement of our positive achievements, the community will not have hope that the problems we face will ever be resolved.

There is some data on the use of alcohol and other drugs that progress is being achieved in some areas. The data shows that fewer school-age children are drinking alcohol in South Australia, and the proportion of young Australians engaging in single-occasion risky drinking has decreased as well. The proportion of young South Australians with a reported use of cannabis has been decreasing since 2001.

However, we can never relax. I know a couple of families that have been torn apart by the use of methamphetamine or ice. It just leads to terrible results all around. An ice user believes they need to get more and more to feed their habit. From what I am told in relation to methamphetamine, nothing ever matches the first hit, so they keep chasing that hit, but it never happens.

I salute the way the families that I know have pulled in around their loved ones in some cases. However, in other cases, they just cut them free because they are on that path and hope they will be able to remedy it into the future. I commend the work that our government is doing. We must always be vigilant. We must get on board. We must always do what we can to help not just our young people but our citizens right across the state of South Australia.