Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (16:37:08):
I move: That this house:
(1) notes that International Overdose Awareness Day is on 31 August and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and that:
(a) drugs continue to be a major contributor to accidental mortality in Australia;
(b) the number of overdose deaths by prescription medication is now larger than all illicit drugs combined;
(c) the number of accidental drug-related deaths is more than double the number of those killed in car accidents;
(d) in 2017 there was a total of 2162 drug-induced deaths in Australia, a significant increase from the 1231 deaths in 2002, 15 years prior;
(e) of those 2162 deaths in 2017, 1612 were unintentional, an increase from 15 years ago, with 903 unintentional drug-induced deaths in 2002;
(f) stigma can play a major role in these unnecessary deaths;
(g) this awareness day originated here in Victoria and is recognised in dozens of other countries;
(h) harm reduction principles are an important part of preventing overdoses; and
(2) acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends and commits to use this day to stimulate discussion about overdose prevention.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to move this motion on behalf of the crossbench. I think this is probably the first time in this chamber that a joint motion has made it to the notice paper. This is a joint motion that has been agreed to by the whole crossbench because it is an incredibly important issue.
I think International Overdose Awareness Day is a very important day to consider, to commemorate and to promote so that we can somehow work towards reducing the death toll of drug overdose in our community and our population.
As the motion tells us—I would use up all my time if I were to read the complete motion—the evidence shows us that more people die of accidental drug overdoses than die from road accidents and yet we keep spending billions of dollars seeking a zero road toll.
I think zero deaths on our roads is an honourable, optimistic and aspirational goal, but we do not even have a goal for overdose prevention and yet it is consistently rising.
Ten or 15 years ago probably the road toll and the toll around accidental drug overdoses was about even; drug overdoses are now almost three times higher and yet we have not got a Transport Accident Commission out there running ads on how to prevent overdoses.
We do not have things like pill testing at festivals which could prevent overdoses. We need to take this issue seriously. I wrote to the Minister for Mental Health, Minister Foley, asking him if he could help promote drug overdose day in Victoria because it actually began in Victoria in 2010 as an initiative from the Penington Institute.
It now is in I think up to 100 countries and around the world there will be close to 600 events commemorating overdose prevention day, but I wrote to the minister and said maybe we could light up some of the buildings purple to commemorate the people who have died from accidental drug overdoses in our committee; as I say, it is about three times as many people who have died from road accidents.
I did not get an answer, but I am very pleased to hear today that the Victorian Arts Centre will be lit up purple and a number of other buildings around the city will be lit up purple.
I hope that you share drug overdose awareness day with your constituents, that you help the people who are still struggling with the loss of loved ones around your community and that we can work on some sort of goal to reduce the ever-escalating deaths and the damage that illicit drugs do but also even more so prescription drugs do.