Archives: Adjournments

Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment


Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:48): (2126) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and relates to schedule 9 permits.

I have recently become aware of a consultation document published by the Department of Health in August this year proposing to restrict permits for schedule 9 poisons for human therapeutic use under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017 to clinical trials only.

The effect will be to limit, amongst other things, the currently approved medical use of MDMA and psilocybin outside of clinical trials. This will be a highly regressive change.

Given the growing level of evidence supporting the use of these medicines, we have seen that the TGA is providing the SAS approval for these, following medical review, so we have got the checks and balances to ensure that this is appropriate treatment in the individual circumstances. The rationale supposedly for this scheduling is uniformity.

I think this is a pretty hollow argument given where we went with medicinal cannabis some years ago. We went out there and we have been at the forefront of psilocybin and MDMA, and in fact we are doing some quite remarkable work in this state in these areas.

This follows from a request that I made to the minister imploring the Department of Health to issue a schedule 9 permit to enable a psychiatrist with approval from the TGA under the special access scheme to treat a patient who was suffering from treatment-resistant PTSD, and that treatment was to be with MDMA and psychotherapy.

Patients suffering from PTSD and other mental health conditions will be the losers out of this, and if these rules change it could prevent life-saving interventions, so the action I seek is that the minister reject this proposal outright.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment 20/9/22






Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:05): (2122) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police, and the action I seek relates to opioid overdose. As the minister is very aware, there was a recent sizeable seizure of fentanyl coming in via a Melbourne port. As we all know, the potential to dramatically heighten the risk of accidental overdose in this state is now apparent with fentanyl hitting our shores. But overdose death is entirely preventable, even with fentanyl, by using Nyxoid, a naloxone nasal spray. It is an opiate agonist that reverses the life-threatening effects of a known or suspected opioid overdose. It is easy to administer and it is life saving.

Some years ago I was visiting Vancouver and we were being taken around by the police there. They were proudly showing us their supervised injecting facilities and their heroin testing when they saw a person overdose on fentanyl on the street. The police officer raced to that person, gave them some naloxone and saved that person’s life. I was there with now deputy commissioner of police Rick Nugent, and he saw it as well as I did. North Richmond’s safe injecting room equally provides life-saving assistance on a daily basis by ensuring that opioid injecting takes place in a safe space. This has recently been proven by the latest overdose statistics, which show that opioid overdoses are down 60 per cent in Yarra compared to only 15 per cent across the state.

The action I am seeking tonight relates to police in Richmond, Fitzroy and the Melbourne CBD, and it is twofold: firstly, that the minister ensures that all police stationed in these precincts are inducted in relation to the medically supervised injecting room and visit that facility so they can better understand how the centre operates and the discretion required for its operation. As we saw in Canada, the police are great supporters of these types of facilities. Further, I ask that the minister require all police stationed in Richmond, Fitzroy and the CBD area to carry Nyxoid with them whilst on duty for use in the event of an overdose.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment 1/9/22



I thank the Member for her question.

I sought advice from Victoria Police on the matters raised. I am advised that police officers who work at police stations within the vicinity of the medically supervised injecting room have an understanding of the purpose and role of the facility and undertake policing functions in accordance with developed operating procedures.

The carriage and use of agonist drugs such as Nyxoid remains within the purview of medically trained personnel such as paramedics.

Victoria Police policy requires all police, Protective Services Officers (PSOs) and Police Custody Officers (PCOs) to hold first aid certification. Training, including refresher training (conducted every three years), is undertaken to attain and maintain at a minimum a basic first aid qualification. Such training provides responding police, PSOs and PCOs with first aid skills to assist injured or medically compromised persons while ambulance, paramedic or other medical services are engaged.

Hon Anthony Carbines MP
Minister for Police
Minister for Crime Prevention

Opioid replacement therapy


Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:20): (2100) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and the action I seek pertains to pharmacotherapy. Methadone and buprenorphine are used in the treatment of opioid dependence, and on International Overdose Awareness Day I think it is really important to note their life-saving and life-changing potential. The prescription of methadone and buprenorphine has been proven to reduce health, social and economic harms caused by dependence on either illicit or licit opioids, most importantly reducing illness and deaths and helping people to stabilise and lead more productive lives. But these programs only work when pharmacies participate, so it is vitally important that we encourage pharmacies to provide opioid replacement therapy right across the state. Consider the implications, for example, of pharmacotherapy patients in a one-pharmacy town in regional Victoria. We are seeing this not only in regional Victoria but also amongst the suburbs in inner-city areas of Victoria, where chemists are retiring or new pharmacies are setting up and they are not interested in providing opioid replacement therapy.

Our pharmacies are pillars of our community, and let us not forget that they are also small businesses. Elsewhere across Australia other states offer financial incentives and subsidies that support pharmacies to dispense these life-saving medications. Victoria is a complete outlier in that it provides no support to pharmacies to provide opioid replacement therapy. So the action I seek is that the minister commission a stocktake of the approaches of other Australian jurisdictions in this regard and implement a best practice model for Victoria to incentivise pharmacy participation in pharmacotherapy dispensing.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment 31/8/22




Fashion industry


Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:14): (2075) My adjournment matter is for the Assistant Treasurer, and the action I seek relates to government procurement. Recently I visited Etiko clothing in Brunswick on Sydney Road. It is part of our office’s ‘F*** fast fashion’ campaign. The campaign is highlighting the unsustainable textile waste in Australia, and the primary solutions are pretty simple: buy local; buy ethical; buy less; and stitch, don’t ditch. Etiko are a champion in these areas, and I was really pleased to meet with Nick Savaidis and his team to discuss their wonderful sustainable practices. There is no child labour, no underpaid workers, no wrecking of the environment, and they are completely transparent in their supply chains.

It is an issue that we can address as individual consumers by buying ethically, but it is also an issue that we can tackle in a bigger way at the procurement level. As we know, staff in various branches in departments and statutory authorities are wearing workplace uniforms, and it is this area where the government can have the greatest impact.

Unfortunately in this tender space price still seems to be king, and Etiko related to me how they went for a tender process with another couple of local businesses. They are a social enterprise, they are a local business and yet the winner of that tender was an international company that did not have ethical practices, and it would appear that the price was what won the bid. Despite what the government is saying about procurement, it is not acting on this and we are not supporting our local manufacturers. So the action I seek is that the minister expand our procurement rules around social enterprise and local manufacturing to include ethical sourcing of clothing as well. But also could they explain a little bit further to my office how businesses like Etiko could be more successful in the tender process?


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 18/8/22




Answered: 19 September 2022

Procurement policies apply to Victorian Government departments and agencies that foster social enterprise, local manufacturing and ethical sourcing of uniforms and personal protective equipment.

Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework defines social and sustainable procurement as a key part of government procurement. For government buyers, the framework provides guidance to embed social and sustainable procurement into existing procurement processes. The framework applies to all of Victoria’s procurement activity and covers goods, services, and construction. The framework increases job opportunities for under-represented groups, increasing market access for social enterprises and provides greater support for businesses that prioritise social impact alongside the delivery of competitively priced, high-quality construction projects, goods and services.

All Victorian Government departments and agencies must buy uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) manufactured locally and ethically, whenever possible, for Victorian Government employees. The Guide to procuring uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) sets out the rules that apply when procuring uniforms and PPE. Under the policy it is a requirement that locally manufactured uniforms and PPE must be bought from suppliers registered on the Ethical Supplier Register. The registered suppliers have (or are in the process of having) their local manufacturing supply chain ethically accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia or verified by an independent third party. The accreditation assures buyers that registered suppliers comply with relevant labour laws relating to wages, awards and working conditions.

It is recommended that suppliers of uniforms and PPE that adopt ethical employment practices in the local manufacture of uniforms and personal protective equipment apply to Ethical Clothing Australia for accreditation and to be listed on the Ethical Supplier Register. Government buyers look to suppliers on the Ethical Supplier Register to meet the requirements of the policy.

Compliance with the policy is monitored by the Uniforms Monitor within the Department of Treasury and Finance.  The Uniforms Monitor engages with and advises government buyers, promotes local sources of supply, investigates and responds to complaints, and manages the Ethical Supplier Register. The Monitor can be contacted on Uniforms&

More information is available on the Buying for Victoria website.

The Hon. Danny Pearson MP
Assistant Treasurer
Date: 18/9/22

Chronic pain


Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (2067)

Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and relates to chronic pain.

One in five Victorians are affected by chronic pain. Nationally over 3 million Australians live with chronic pain, which results in more than $73 billion in lost productivity annually.

It is debilitating.

Despite its prevalence, sufferers continue to feel stigmatised, particularly when interacting with medical professionals.

Interactions can involve ignorance or the thinly veiled suspicion of addiction. Patients often feel forced to prove their diagnosis is legitimate, over and over again.

Honestly, it’s just not fair, where life is already made harder by this pain, for that suffering to be compounded by stigma from the very professionals meant to understand and help.

So the action I seek is that the minister take specific steps to address this problem and enhance the professional understanding of chronic pain via dedicated education and training across the Victorian health system.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 17/8/22



Answered: 30 September 2022

As part of Victoria’s commitment to ensure Victorian’s have access to specialist chronic pain services, the Victorian government’s 2018 election commitment for an additional 500,000 specialist appointments for regional Victorians, included improving access to specialist chronic pain services. As a result, four new chronic pain clinics commenced in Bairnsdale, Hamilton, Horsham and Swan Hill during 2021-22. Albury-Wodonga Health, Bendigo Health, Grampians Health – Ballarat, Goulburn Valley Health, and Latrobe Regional Hospital were allocated additional funding to expand their existing specialist chronic pain services.

Victoria now has 20 dedicated multidisciplinary chronic pain clinics provided through public hospitals across the state. These services provide specialist assessment, diagnosis, intervention, management, education, and support to clients with moderate to severe chronic non-malignant pain. State-wide referral criteria have been implemented to improve appropriate and equitable access to these services.

The introduction of the SafeScript clinical tool provides doctors and pharmacists with a comprehensive history about the supply of high-risk medicines to their patients, to enable more informed and safer clinical decisions about further supply. This is supported by availability of expert specialist advice through the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service phoneline to help GPs support patients with prescription medicine concerns and complex needs. Additional wrap-around support for prescribers and pharmacists includes online SafeScript training resources to assist with safer patient care.

A capacity-building project has also been funded to provide specialist training to clinicians in regional and rural areas with a video-conferencing platform. The Project ECHO in the Management of Chronic Pain and Opioids is a collaboration between Royal Melbourne Hospital Pain Service and St Vincent’s Hospital Addiction Service and is delivered through a ‘hub and spoke’ model.

The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Ambulance Services
Date: 29/09/2022 


Eating disorder strategy


Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (20:55): (2041) My adjournment matter relates to eating disorders and the lack of an eating disorder strategy. We know that an eating disorder is a serious mental illness and we know that it is characterised by a whole range of issues, whether that is behaviours and attitudes to food and eating or whether it is a preoccupation with exercise and body weight and shape. We have certainly all seen in the media the significant rise in eating disorders over COVID.

In some ways, when I met with Eating Disorders Victoria just last week—I hate to say it—I was somewhat comforted to hear that this rise in eating disorders was not just in Victoria but across Australia and in fact across the world. So it was not necessarily linked to lockdowns; it appears to be linked to the anxiety of COVID and the anxiety that was a global experience. What we saw, and we were grateful, was that the government did commit funds to uplifting eating disorder services in the May budget.

It was unclear why they chose where they will provide that funding. Certainly what we did not see was an eating disorder strategy. That is pretty much what my adjournment matter is about—asking for an eating disorder strategy or an update on that—because what I learned from Eating Disorders Victoria last week is that eating disorders are actually the most deadly of all mental illnesses. Schizophrenia, depression—more people die from eating disorders than any of those other mental illnesses.

So the action I am seeking is for the minister to provide an update to the sector specifying where the strategy is up to, what funding will be allocated and to which services funding will be allocated. As I say, young people’s lives quite literally depend on this.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 4/8/22




Answered: 26 September 2022

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring support is available for Victorians living with an eating disorder to recover and live happy, healthy lives.

Demand for eating disorders services has increased both during the COVID-19 pandemic and consistently over the past decade. Unprecedented global events and the pervasive impact of social media has seen an increase, particularly for young Victorians, in new eating disorders and relapses – a statistic that is sadly replicated worldwide.

Eating disorders are a very serious mental illness. Not only do eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, but people experiencing an eating disorder also are disproportionately more likely to experience other forms of mental illness – with rates of anxiety and depression 32 times higher for people with anorexia than the general population.

The Victorian Budget 2022-23 invests $20 million in new funding to support Victorians impacted by eating disorders. This includes community-based supports for consumers, carers and families; a workforce capability uplift; multidisciplinary specialist care models in metropolitan and regional health services; and greater capacity to deliver acute bed-based care for Victorians with eating disorders.

It also includes funding to develop a new statewide eating disorders strategy to guide a more systemic and coordinated response to support people living with eating disorders, as well as their carers, families, and supporters.

The strategy will be developed by the Department of Health in partnership with Eating Disorders Victoria and the Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders – also ensuring that the voices of people with lived and living experience of eating disorders are included in the strategy development.

Public engagement on the strategy is expected to commence later this year, with the strategy expected to be completed in 2023.

Gabrielle Williams MP
Minister for Mental Health
Minister for Treaty and First Peoples

Date: 20/09/2022

Medicinal cannabis driving


MS PATTEN — To ask the Minister for Employment (for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety):

Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:

My adjournment matter is for the minister for road safety and relates to medicinal cannabis.

Last week the Premier posted on social media that medicinal cannabis ‘helps the most unwell Victorians. It can change lives. And it’s being manufactured right here’.

The Premier has previously stated that ‘the best argument in favour of medicinal cannabis is that it saves lives’.

As a state we have embraced medicinal cannabis as an industry and we recognise it as legitimate prescription medicine.

But the single-biggest barrier to access is our driving law that does not distinguish between medicinal and illicit use.

I have introduced a bill on this issue. I saw that a government working group was established on this issue. But that has not helped the growing number of Victorian medicinal cannabis patients.

Under Tasmanian driving law, THC is seen as a prescribed and lawful drug and a person does not commit an offence if that drug was obtained and administered lawfully.

The fact that Tasmania has a legal defence for medicinal cannabis patients shows that it is not only possible, but that it is safe and reasonable.

So the action I seek is that the minister meet with his relevant counterpart from the Tasmanian government with the view to understanding how that government allayed safety concerns in legislating for this important reform.

We provide a defence in Victorian law for all other prescription medicines. It is time we stopped discriminating against medicinal cannabis patients and followed Tasmania’s lead.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment 21/6/22



Answered: 1 August 2022

I thank the Member for Northern Metropolitan Region for her question.

I acknowledge that prescribed medicinal cannabis is a genuine treatment option for individuals with certain chronic health conditions. Medicinal cannabis can come in many different forms and as such, may contain varying levels of THC, the impairing component of cannabis. Some medicinal cannabis formulations contain very low levels of THC, which is unlikely to be detectable on confirmatory roadside drug testing protocols.

It is currently not possible to reliably determine the type of cannabis, whether it be medicinal or recreational, a positive roadside test for THC has resulted from.

Regardless, numerous studies over many years have demonstrated the impairing effects THC can have on driving performance. On average each year, approximately 15 per cent of all deceased drivers on Victorian roads are found to have detectable levels of THC in their system. The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine have analysed over 5,000 random blood samples of seriously injured drivers in Victoria and have shown that THC, at any concentration, is associated with almost a doubling of the crash risk, compared to a drug-free driver, which highlights the very real dangers associated with THC and driving.

The Government’s road safety partners, including the Department of Transport, the TAC, Victoria Police, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, and the Department of Health, are currently undertaking research to better our understanding of the effects of medicinal cannabis containing THC specifically on driving, and the likelihood of being detected at roadside.

The government is committed to continue to explore options that may offer a balanced solution, one that supports medicinal cannabis patients whilst upholding the road safety of all Victorians.

The Hon Ben Carroll MP
Minister for Public Transport
Minister for Roads and Road Safety

Pill testing


Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:53): (1968) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and relates to drug checking. It was only a short while ago that I asked a question without notice of the minister with respect to the coronial inquest into the tragic death of Mr S, who died on 28 June 2020 at 20 years of age of mixed drug toxicity. So it saddens me greatly to be standing here today raising a separate inquest into the death of Mr P, who died on 21 September 2020, aged 26, also of mixed drug toxicity. Mr P was a young man. He was an apprentice mechanic. He was a keen soccer player. He was a keen footballer. He was loved by his family. He was living a young man’s life in a group house, and sadly he died. He died, as did Mr S, of synthetic cathinones—as did 33 other people in Victoria in 2020. Thirty-three people died of synthetic cathinones not knowing that that is what they had taken. Coroner Sarah Gebert recommended with respect to both:

That the Department of Health, as the appropriate arm of the Victorian Government, implements a drug checking service in the State of Victoria as a matter of urgency, to reduce the number of preventable deaths (and nonfatal harms) associated with the use of drugs obtained from unregulated drug markets.

The recommendation mirrors that of Coroner Paresa Spanos with respect to five preceding overdose deaths. These deaths are preventable, so the action I seek is that the minister accept the recommendations of these inquests and implement a drug-checking service in Victoria.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 8/6/22




Answered: 24 August 2022

The Department of Health is considering the findings of Coroner Gebert. The Department of Health’s Secretary, to whom the recommendations were addressed, will respond to the Court in due course.

The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP 
Minister for Health 
Minister for Ambulance Services 



Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:01): (1945) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, and the action I am seeking relates to Victoria’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Strategy. This strategy sets the direction for workforce development and planning for Victoria’s AOD sector, but it is from 2018 to 2022. So it has finished, and we have seen no new strategies going forward.

This strategy is supposed to be focused on workforce availability, workforce capabilities and workforce diversity, improving the health of workers in that area, strengthening leadership and delivering person-centred integrated care.

I can tell you that in every single inquiry that the Legal and Social Issues Committee does we report that we need more alcohol and other drug workers. We are bereft of them. In the inquiry that I am going to this evening, where we are talking about the impact on children of parental incarceration, the lack and the dearth of alcohol and drug workers is mentioned time and time again.

In fact even in Mr Finn’s adjournment—now, most people would not expect us to agree, and we may not agree on the outcome—the issues that Mr Finn raised relate to the lack of an alcohol and other drugs strategy. Mr Finn might have different ideas of what to do with those people than I do; however, it shows yet again that our strategy is not working.

Then in this budget we saw a cut of $40 million to this sector when everyone is saying we do not have enough alcohol and other drug workers. We do not have enough rehab beds, we do not have enough treatment and we do not have enough counselling, yet we saw a $40 million cut.

So the action I am seeking from the minister—and I am very hopeful that the minister and the minister’s office have already done this, that they have developed a strategy for the next four years and that they are fully funding the strategy—is for the minister to publish that strategy and help us meet the demand and help us reduce the preventable deaths and injuries resulting from drug use in Victoria.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment matter 25/5/22






Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:34): (1903) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, and the action I am seeking relates to endometriosis. Endometriosis is an under-recognised disease that affects the wellbeing of so many. It is an inflammatory condition that most commonly strikes the reproductive organs, but it is also frequently found in the bowel and in the bladder. By the age of 44, one in nine women in Australia have been diagnosed with endometriosis. In many cases it starts in teenagers, and they experience a range of very painful pelvic symptoms. For most of them it takes nearly 10 years for that diagnosis to occur.

There are 35 000 endometriosis-related hospitalisations each year in Australia. The Australian government estimates the disease costs close to $10 billion a year. Two-thirds of that is in lost productivity, the rest is in health care. But our current health system lacks proper care pathways and evidence-based approaches to that delivery of care.

A trial underway at Barwon Health is already reducing hospitalisations via an interdisciplinary approach incorporating cognitive behaviour therapy, pelvic physiotherapy, yoga and education. Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the Julia Argyrou Endometriosis Centre at the Epworth. Now, they are not just delivering holistic patient-centred care for those with endometriosis, they are dedicated to actually finding a cure. The week before, I went to the women’s hospital and met with their researchers and saw the great work that they are doing in trying to work out ways to minimise the symptoms but also to treat endometriosis, and I think all of us want to find a way to stop the suffering. But it is time for this good work to stop working in silos, so the action I seek from the minister is that they develop and implement a Victorian endometriosis policy and strategy.


Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment matter 11/5/22




Answered: 26 July 2022

Thank you for your question and your ongoing advocacy on women’s sexual and reproductive health.

The Andrews Labor Government supports a focus on endometriosis as this is a significant and often debilitating women’s health issue. This chronic condition has significant personal and societal costs. While there is no known cause or cure for endometriosis, a range of treatment options are available. Earlier diagnosis of chronic conditions such as endometriosis that affect women’s sexual function and health, fertility and reproductive wellbeing is critical.

Since 2017 the Andrews Labor Government has provided funding to support a focus on women’s sexual and reproductive health as identified under the Victorian Women’s Reproductive Health Key Priorities 2017 – 20. This includes funding for Jean Hailes Foundation to develop resources to raise women’s and health professionals’ awareness about endometriosis, including information in other community languages. As part of this investment the government has also established eight women’s sexual and reproductive health hubs, four in metropolitan Melbourne and four in regional Victoria. Between these eight hubs and their satellite clinics there are now twenty sites available across the state for women to access for screening, treatment, support and care.

In the 2021-22 budget, the government allocated further funding to expand the existing women’s hubs and establish three new regional hubs bringing the total to 11. The hubs provide access to contraception methods, pregnancy options including medical termination of pregnancy, sexually transmissible infections testing and treatment as well as a range of other women’s health services such as chronic reproductive health issues.

The Government is currently finalising the Victorian sexual and reproductive health and viral hepatitis strategy 2022-2030. The strategy includes the Victorian Women’s sexual and reproductive health plan 2022-2030 which sets the overarching direction for access to information, services, workforce capacity and collaboration and addressing such conditions as endometriosis is a key element of the new plan.

The Government is also currently preparing a renewed gender equality strategy, aimed at improving health outcomes for all Victorian women, including in the areas of mental health, and sexual and reproductive health.

The Victorian Department of Education and Training supports schools to ‘champion’ menstrual health by providing resources and guidance on how to promote positive menstrual health in schools. The department is consulting with experts and key stakeholders on opportunities to include information on pelvic pain, including endometriosis, in an upcoming update to the department’s menstrual health resources.

The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Ambulance Services

Date: 25/07/2022