Medical and Harm Reduction Facilities
Harm Reduction International is dedicated to promoting comprehensive and responsive health services and policies around the world. To this end, Harm Reduction International is committed to ensuring our event provides and facilitates appropriate care for all delegates who may have special healthcare needs, especially those people who use or have used drugs, or who are living with HIV, viral hepatitis or TB. In order to do this, we appoint a Medical Committee for each conference, consisting of local and international healthcare professionals and representatives of organisations of people who use drugs.
Information for All Delegates
All conference delegates should arrange their own health and travel insurance in advance of their trip to Australia and should ensure that they carry it with them whilst at the conference.
All conference delegates who are undergoing any kind of medical treatment should bring their own medication in sufficient quantities to cover their treatment for the duration of their stay in Australia.
All conference delegates (undergoing any kind of medical treatment) are advised to bring a medical record from their doctor (written in English) specifying their condition and the treatment they are receiving. This will make things easier in the event of unexpected circumstances, such as medication being mislaid or the need for urgent medical care.
Such a letter from your doctor and, if possible, a copy of the prescription in your name, will also verify your authorisation for these medications (should you be asked) upon arrival at the airport.
People Travelling to Australia with OAT (Methadone/Buprenorphine)
Come prepared with all your medication (including benzodiazepines, psychiatric medications, anti-depressants etc)
If you are usually prescribed liquid methadone, please ask if it can be prescribed in tablet form for the period of travel.
Bring a letter from your prescriber, (translated into English) that clearly states:
No more than 3 months’ supply of medicine can be brought in or taken out of Australia.
Arriving by plane
Australian Customs Information
You do not need a permit if you are a passenger on a ship or aircraft and you:
If you are on OAT in another country but are not allowed to take medication with you.
You will need to bring to Australia:
Opioid dependent and no OAT?
*Note this service is not guaranteed.
We strongly urge everyone attending HR23 to bring their own medication and the appropriate documentation.
COVID Safety Policy
You can read our COVID Safety Policy here.
For further information regarding the HR23 Wellbeing facilities, please email medical[at]hri[dot]global (in confidence).
Please refer back to this page for any updates and new information. An information leaflet for delegates (detailing all local services) will be made available nearer the time.
Information provided by our friends at Harm Reduction Victoria.
NSP and Naloxone Access
NSP services will be provided at the conference by local organisations. Anyone is allowed to access NSPs, and it is legal for anyone to pass on any NSP products to others. The service is private/confidential, although you may be asked some questions (e.g. what you are using, your gender, age, etc) for data collection purposes. Some services offer unlimited amounts of some or all equipment, others may restrict how much you are allowed to take.
Along with fixed site NSPs, there are some outreach services available and several vending machines. See below for details of some select services.
Many pharmacies also carry NSP equipment, although what is available is limited and it is common to be charged for these packs. It is also good to note that many injecting drug users asking for fitpacks report being treated poorly in many of these spaces.
Some NSP Locations in and around Melbourne:
Salvation Army: 29 Grey St, St Kilda VIC 3182. +61 3 95367703. Open 24/7. 6.5km from Melbourne CBD.
Take the 96 tram from Bourke St in the CBD, or from the Convention Centre in the direction of St Kilda Beach. Get off at stop 133-Canterbury Rd/Fitzroy St in St Kilda. Backtrack just a bit and you will hit Grey Street. The NSP is a very short walk from there. An uber from the CBD costs around $30 during the day.
Foot Patrol (Youth Projects) NSP Outreach in the CBD: +61 4 1215549 or (free call) 1800 700 102. 1800 numbers are free from any phone. All payphones are also free of charge.
Monday-Friday: 12.30pm-4.45pm, 5.30pm-9.45pm; Saturday & Sunday: 2.00pm-5.15pm, 6.30pm-9.45pm
Foot Patrol will arrange to meet you in a mutually safe location inside the CBD. The CBD is a “free tram zone”, so no ticket is required.
Melbourne Sexual Health Centre: 580 Swanston St, Carlton VIC 3053. + 61 3 9341 6200. Monday-Friday: 8.30am-5.00pm. Located just outside the CBD.
The number 1, 3/3a, 6, 16 and 64 trams from Swanston St in the city pass by there. Head north on any of those trams and get off at Lincoln Square. Cross the road and backtrack toward the city, it’s not far from the tram stop.
cohealth: 75 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065. +61 3 9448 5531 Monday-Friday: 12.30pm-5.00pm. Syringe dispensing unit available after hours.
10 minute walk from Parliament Station - there is a tram stop outside Parliament Station for 86 route Tram. Get off at stop 13, corner Gertrude and Brunswick Streets.
cohealth Innerspace: 4 Johnston St, Collingwood VIC 3066. +61 3 9448 5530. Monday-Friday: 10.30am-6.00pm
Catch the number 86 tram in the direction of Bundoora from anywhere on Bourke St in Melbourne. Get off at the Johnston St/Smith St stop, cross both Johnston and Smith streets and you will find Innerspace just a couple doors down from the intersection.
For NSP Outreach in the Collingwood area: Call +61 4 18179814. 7:30pm-11.00pm weeknights *please note, call as early as possible. If calling late, they may not be able to get to you*
NSP outreach covers the following suburbs: Abbotsford, Brunswick East (East of Nicholson St), Burnley, Carlton & North Carlton, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Cremorne, East Melbourne, Fairfield, Fitzroy & North Fitzroy, Hawthorn & East Hawthorn, Kew & East Kew, North Melbourne, Northcote (South of Separation St), Parkville, Richmond, West Melbourne, Westgarth.
Harm Reduction Victoria: 299-305 Victoria St, Brunswick VIC 3056.
Our office is a 2 minute walk from Brunswick Station, on the Upflied train line. If travelling north from the city, exit the train station turning right, and this will bring you to Victoria Street. Cross Victoria Street and walk right (east). We are just a few doors down from the tracks. We are also only a 2 minute walk from the tram. Catch the number 19 tram from anywhere on Elizabeth street in the city, and get out at the Victoria St/Sydney Rd stop. Walk up to the intersection, cross Victoria street and turn left (west) down Victoria street. If you reach the train tracks, you’ve gone too far! Harm Reduction Victoria is on the corner of Victoria and Boase streets. Enter through main door on Victoria Street.
North Richmond Community Health: 23 Lennox St, Richmond VIC 3121. +61 3 94189811. Monday-Friday: 7.00am-9.00pm; Saturday-Sunday: 8.00am-7.00pm. Co-located with the Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR). For more details about this service, see below.
Catch the number 75 tram from anywhere on Flinders St in the CBD. Get off at stop 15 (Epworth Hospital/Bridge Road). Continue eastwards to Lennox St. Turn left up Lennox. NRCH will be on your right, just after Richmond West Primary School. It’s about a 10 min walk from the tram. If going by train, catch the Hurstbridge or Mernda lines and get off at West Richmond station. If coming from the city, cross to the other side of the tracks, and walk down Highett St. Turn left up Lennox. NRCH will be on your right, just after Richmond West Primary School. It’s about a 7 min walk from the train.
cohealth Healthworks: 4-12 Buckley St, Footscray VIC 3011. +61 3 94485511. Monday-Wednesday, Friday:10.15am-5.00pm (closed 12.30pm-1.00pm); Thursday: 1.00pm-5.00pm. Syringe dispensing unit available 24/7.
Healthworks entrance is on McNab Ave, in between Buckley St and the roundabout. The 220 bus will drop you off on Nicholson Street. Healthworks entrance is on the opposite side of the cohealth building. Footscray train station is very close. Following McNab Avenue on the south/east side of the train station will take you there.
To see a full NSP directory, you can visit: https://nspdirectory.aivl.org.au/ or https://www.health.vic.gov.au/aod-treatment-services/needle-and-syringe-program You can also call Directline on (free call) 1800 888 236 and ask them to look up where your closest one is.
Naloxone will available from the harm reduction volunteer workers at the conference. However, if you are in Melbourne prior to the conference and need naloxone, you have some options. Naloxone is now available from pharmacies free of charge. However, not all pharmacies carry naloxone. Some pharmacies that we know that do are:
Chemist Warehouse: 592 Elizabeth Street, MELBOURNE, VIC, 3000. Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 7.30am - 9.00pm, Saturday & Sunday, 8.00am - 7.00pm
Chemist Warehouse: 326 William Street, MELBOURNE, VIC, 3000. Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 7.30am - 9.00pm, Saturday & Sunday, 9.00am - 6.00pm
Creelman’s Pharmacy: Shop 20, Kmart Centre, 222 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000. Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 8.30am - 6.00pm, Saturday, 9.00am - 6.00pm, Sunday, 10.00am - 5.00pm
NSP is also available at the above listed pharmacies, however pharmacies do not offer free NSP services so you will charged. For free injecting equipment, access services listed in the above NSP info section. You can also get naloxone from the peer workers at The Living Room, in Hosier Lane (enter down Routledge Lane) in Melbourne CBD, which is within walking distance of Flinders Street Station. They are open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am-12.00pm, and 1.00pm-4.00pm, Tuesdays 9.30am-12.30pm and Saturdays 11.00am-4.00pm.
Medically Supervised Injecting Room: North Richmond Community Health - 23 Lennox St, Richmond, VIC 3121 Please enter the new building via Lennox St. You do not need an appointment. +61 3 9418 9811. Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 7am-9am; Saturday-Sunday, 8am-7pm.
· a place to inject drugs in a health setting
· trained staff to manage an overdose
· doctors, nurses and counsellors
· links to other health and social support services.
How does it work?
Step 1: Registration and a brief assessment - When a person enters the medically supervised injecting room, they are assessed by staff and registered as a client. Only those who are over the age of 18 can attend the service. The registration process involves a brief assessment with a staff member, who discusses the client’s medical history with them. Each client is required to provide a name and a password to register for the service and access the medically supervised injecting room on subsequent visits. On each visit, eligible clients provide their name or password, and other information including the drug they intend to inject. This assists staff in responding to an overdose in the medically supervised injecting room. No drugs are supplied in the medically supervised injecting room.
Step 2: Medically supervised injecting and overdose response - Once registration and assessment are complete, clients move into the injecting area. They wash their hands, are provided with sterile injecting equipment and given harm reduction advice before they inject their pre-obtained drugs in an allocated booth. Once a client has injected, they dispose of any needles and syringes safely and wash their hands again. The injecting area is supervised by qualified health staff. Clients are monitored closely for signs of overdose. Staff respond to all overdoses or related medical incidents, which may include the administration of oxygen or other medication.
Stage 3: Aftercare and referral - After injecting, clients move to an aftercare space in the facility, where they stay until they feel ready to leave. During this time, clients are able to talk further with qualified staff about their wider health and social support needs. They are supported to access other health services and support services, such as drug treatment and rehabilitation.
The Needle and Syringe Program also provides support services in the same building from 7am to 9pm on weekdays and from 8am to 7pm on weekends. Please be aware, this service is for Injecting Drugs only.
Drug Laws in Victoria
It is against the law in Australia to use, possess, cultivate or traffic a drug of dependence. The penalties for using and possessing small quantities of illegal drugs are treated less seriously than for trafficking and cultivating drugs. Importing or exporting drugs is an offence under Commonwealth law.
Possession of an Illegal Drug: Possession is one of the most common drug offences. Possession means having a drug on you or in a house or property you occupy. This includes cannabis growing anywhere on the premises. You can be charged with possession if drugs are found in a car you own or you are driving. If you are caught with a small quantity of cannabis or heroin and it is your first offence, you will usually get a warning (caution) instead of being charged with the offence. The police informant makes this decision. You will have to agree to have drug counselling and to attend a drug treatment centre. If you do not go along as agreed, you may be charged by police later. For the police to prove a charge of possession in court, you must have known that the drug was there and have intended to possess it.
Drug Trafficking: You could be charged with trafficking drug of dependence if you are caught
· with a large quantity of the drug
· preparing (such as dividing the drugs into smaller packages) or manufacturing a drug
· selling the drug
· buying drugs for a friend
The penalties are much higher for trafficking an illegal drug. They depend on the quantity you have and how old you are. The maximum penalty for an adult is:
· 15 years jail and/or a fine of up to 1,800 penalty units, or
· 25 years jail and/or 3,000 penalty units for trafficking a commercial quantity of an illegal drug.
The maximum penalty for a person under 18 years old is 20 years in jail and/or a fine of up to 2,400 penalty units.
Nicotine Vape Juice: Is only legal in australia with a prescription, and even then it must be imported from overseas. A doctor’s prescription allows you to import a very small quantity for personal use. You cannot legally purchase nicotine vape juice in australia from any store, pharmacy, etc. To legally bring it with you from overseas, you must have a doctor’s prescription.
Importing Alcohol and Tobacco: When entering Australia from another country, you are allowed to bring a limited amount of alcohol and tobacco with you. You may either bring this with you from home, or purchase it at the duty free shop at the airport before reaching customs, where they may confiscate anything that is over the limit if they find it. Duty free tobacco and alcohol is significantly less expensive as you don’t pay the tax amount. It is worth checking out prices though, as duty free prices may still be higher than the country you are coming from. The limits of allowance are 2.25 litres of alcohol, and 25 cigarettes or 25g of rolling tobacco. For more information about what you can and can’t legally bring in to australia, you can look at the Australian Border Force info page: https://www.abf.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/can-you-bring-it-in/categories/duty-free
Some unsolicited advice:
- If you know someone in Melbourne, consider posting cigarettes and tobacco ahead of time to cut down on personal costs. If the amount posted is within the limits mentioned above, it will be allowed through. Interception from customs could occur if you were posting multiple packages at the same time – please be aware of this risk.
- If you don’t smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, consider purchasing some from duty free anyway. There are many people who would be very happy to buy off you at a cheaper price than what they pay at the shops.
General Drug Trends
Purity and potency: As with any unregulated drug supply, content and quality can vary widely in and around Melbourne, affecting purity and potency. We do not have legal drug-checking services here. There is only one legal site in australia, located in Canberra, ACT (about 650 kms/400 miles away). You can look at their monthly content summaries, alerts and reports here: https://www.cahma.org.au/services/cantest/. The latest drug alert information relevant for Melbourne can be found on Harm Reduction Victoria’s website: https://www.hrvic.org.au/, as well as through other local harm reduction services and the Victorian state government’s website: https://www.health.vic.gov.au/alcohol-and-drugs/drug-alerts.
XANAX Warning: “Xanax” is a popular street drug in Melbourne. Pills or bricks may appear to look legitimate and from a pharmaceutical source, but re-pressed pills are very common and often contain little or no alprazolam. Fake xanax (or “street xannies”) have been involved in a number of overdoses, as they commonly contain novel synthetic benzodiazepines that are more potent, last longer and often take longer for effects to come on. Try to avoid these where possible, or test first in very small doses. Even experienced benzo enthusiasts are experiencing blackouts from small doses. Look at the websites listed above for more detailed information.
Drug Pricing: The price of drugs, both licit and illicit, has been reported to be extremely high in Australia. Data shows some of the highest prices in the world for many substance types. Even alcohol and tobacco, which are legalized, incur high taxes that are passed on to community members. Please be prepared to pay much higher prices than you are probably used to.
Other Services Available
- Call 000 to request Police, Firefighter and Ambulance assistance
- The Royal Melbourne Hospital, 300 Grattan St, Parkville – 24hr emergency
- St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, 41 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy – 24 hr emergency. Community reports suggest St Vincent’s in generally less stigmatising towards people who use drugs. They employ mental health and AOD peer workers for their emergency rooms.
Directline Alcohol and Other Drug Support Services:
- You can call 1800 888 236 for one-off anonymous free counselling. They can also tell you where your closest NSP (Needle Syringe Program) is located.
Sexual Assault Crisis Line (Victoria):
- Run by CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault) at 1800 806 292
- Peer-driven LGBTQIA+ support service. Phone support line runs 3pm-midnight every day 1800 184 527