The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania will be facilitating discussions between Pill Testing Australia and the Tasmanian Government over the next two days.
Gino Vumbaca, President of Harm Reduction Australia and co-founder of Pill Testing Australia will be in Hobart and attending meetings, including a briefing with the Premier, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing and the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management on Thursday afternoon.
ATDC chief executive Alison Lai said she was looking forward to the discussions as an opportunity to speak directly to the Premier and his parliamentary team.
“I recently had the opportunity to directly brief Minister Jeremy Rockliff and answer his questions on how pill testing services operates as a health service, and this was a highly productive discussion,” Ms Lai said.
“It will be incredibly beneficial to have all the relevant Ministers in the room alongside the Premier to receive information direct from Pill Testing Australia.
“Tasmania did not have a parliamentary representative at the pill testing demonstration provided by the ACT Government in April this year, so we’re grateful for opportunities like this, particularly given the current level of national attention pill testing is receiving.”
Mr Vumbaca said that he would focus on explaining how pill testing services operate, and the evidence supporting the outcomes it could provide for Tasmania.
“For many, using pill testing services will be the first opportunity for them to talk to a health professional about their drug use and in some cases will lead to them deciding not to consume the drug or moderate their behavior to reduce the likelihood of harm, “Mr Vumbaca said.
Addressing the ongoing debate about pill testing, Mr Vumbaca said that the biggest challenge to getting a trial in Tasmania was the ongoing misunderstandings about what pill testing is and how it works.
“Pill testing services never condones drug use, and it reduces the potential for tragic outcomes and harms for the people taking risks,” he said.
“It is a health and medical service, and as members of the community and parents we should always be seeking to make sure that young people are kept safe and return home after a night out, and that is our simple goal at Pill Testing Australia.”
Speaker of the Tasmanian House of Assembly Sue Hickey will also host representatives from the Tasmanian Greens, the Tasmanian Labor Party and the Department of Health for a briefing on Wednesday, 4 September.
Gino will be available for interview on Wednesday, 4 September at 2.30pm on Parliament Lawns.