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Remembering Those Lost To Overdose

Families of people lost to overdose, alcohol and other drug organisations and Members of Parliament came together at Parliament House today to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.

International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of drug overdose, and reduce the stigma associated with overdose deaths. It acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends of those who have died or been permanently injured as a result of overdose.

In Victoria last year, there were 217 overdose deaths from illicit drugs and many more from prescription drugs.

Fatal overdose is preventable. The Andrews Labor Government invests more than $17 million each year in a range of initiatives to reduce the harm associated with drug use, including fatal overdoses.

Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley today announced the Labor Government will invest in a peer led networks trial in six locations across Melbourne.

Peer workers will draw on their local knowledge and experience of drug use to identify those at risk of overdosing and provide peer support to people who may not utilise mainstream supports.

The trial will take place in areas seen as the top six hotspots for overdose – Brimbank/Maribyrnong, Greater Dandenong, Greater Geelong, Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra.

To further our approach to harm minimisation, the Government will support the Penington Institute to look at emerging models being developed to reduce fatal overdoses and other harms resulting from drug use, with a particular focus on the use of peer workers.

This is in addition to other initiatives to prevent overdose. The Government earlier this year announced the introduction of real time prescription monitoring – a key recommendation of many coronial inquests.

The real time prescription monitoring system will be backed by a $30 million investment to help medical clinics, pharmacies and hospitals to identify prescription drug seekers earlier, before their addiction escalates into serious harm.

Quotes attributable to Mental Health Minister Martin Foley

“Today we remember those lost to overdose and the shattered family and friends they leave behind. It sharpens our focus on what we can do better to prevent this loss.”

“We must ensure our harm reduction efforts fit together to reduce the impact of illicit drug use as much as possible.”

“Governments, community organisations, police – but also each and every one of us – have a role to play.”