Queensland Rolls Out Pill Testing Services

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
  • Queensland becomes the first Australian state or territory to commit to supporting pill testing on an ongoing basis.
  • The Queensland Government is investing nearly $1 million to fund the delivery of pill testing services in Queensland over the next two years.
  • Final planning is underway to deliver Queensland’s first event-based pill testing service at the Rabbits Eats Lettuce festival over the Easter long weekend.

The Queensland Government is delivering on its commitment to reduce the risks and harms associated with illicit drug use by rolling out its free, voluntary, and confidential pill testing service.

Nearly $1 million will be invested to roll out the service, allowing Queenslanders to take substances they intend to use to an appropriately qualified chemist for chemical testing.

In addition to testing substances, services will also provide health interventions delivered by trained health and harm reduction workers that aim to change a person’s behaviour and reduce their risk of harm.

The upcoming Rabbit Eats Lettuce festival will play host to Queensland’s first event-based pill testing service to help festival goers make informed decisions.

This announcement comes following an open market tender process undertaken by Queensland Health, where two providers with extensive experience in the sector were chosen to deliver the state-funded fixed site and event-based pill testing services.

A partnership between the Queensland Injectors Health Network, The Loop Australia and the Queensland Injectors Voice for Advocacy and Action will serve as one provider to deliver fixed site services at two locations in south-east Queensland, and at least one festival-based service in 2024.

Harm Reduction Australia (operating as Pill Testing Australia) has also been engaged to deliver several festival-based services across 2024 and 2025, bringing their experience of operating services at festivals and a fixed-site service in Canberra.

The Queensland Government has also engaged University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research to conduct an evaluation of the services and develop a state-wide monitoring framework for pill testing.

The evaluation will help inform continuous improvement and ongoing models of service and access.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Service Shannon Fentiman:

“I am thrilled to be supporting new and innovative services to help reduce harms from illicit drug use.

“In 2021, there were 2,231 drug-induced deaths in Australia – the equivalent of five deaths a day.

“That’s 2,231 deaths too many, and we know this number will continue to grow if we don’t act now.

“I want to be clear that these services are all about harm minimisation; we don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments – or worse losing their life.

“They aim to make people aware of the dangers of taking illicit substances, influence behaviour and ideally, reduce their use of substances.

“I look forward to working with the successful providers who I know bring extensive experience and expertise in delivering harm reduction services and working with people who use alcohol and other drugs.

“Our government is committed to reducing risks and harms for people and delivering on services that matter most to Queenslanders.”

Quotes attributable to a Pill Testing Australia spokesperson:

“The Pill Testing Australia (PTA) team looks forward to delivering Queensland’s first pill testing/drug checking service, which will occur at the upcoming Rabbits Eat Lettuce festival near Warwick.

“This marks an important milestone in the ongoing efforts of Queensland to reduce drug related harms, and we know the patrons of the festival and their families and friends will greatly appreciate the availability of this vital public health service.

“PTA will work in close collaboration with the onsite health provider, as well as local harm reduction and peer support services and the wider team of event stakeholders, to deliver this new service in Queensland.”

Quotes attributable to the Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Injectors Health Network (QuIHN) Ltd, Geoffrey Davey:

“I commend the Queensland Government for their commitment to evidence-based responses to drug use. We must be proactive to safeguard the health and well-being of our community.

“This funding is a significant step forward toward building a safer and more informed community. We are confident that our drug-checking service will empower individuals to make safer choices.”

Quotes attributable to the Chief Executive Officer, The Loop Australia, Cameron Francis:

“Drug-checking services provide information to help people make more careful decisions. For many people, it will be their first opportunity to talk to a health professional about their drug use and learn about the risks. This is the kind of commonsense approach we need right now.”

Quotes attributable to the Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Injectors Voice for Advocacy and Action (QuIVAA) Inc., Emma Kill:

“Drug checking provides people with timely and relevant information that allows people to make more informed decisions at a time when they have already chosen to take drugs. Drug checking is a commonsense harm reduction approach, successfully used all over the world.

“It surpasses substance testing; we’re equipping individuals with the means to make informed decisions about their drug use. By providing accurate information and fostering a sense of responsibility, we’re not just reshaping choices – we’re saving lives and constructing safer, more resilient communities.”

Quotes attributable to the Principal Research Fellow, University of Queensland (UQ) Associate Professor Caroline Salom PhD:

“UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) is very pleased to see the advent of drug checking in Queensland and commends the Queensland Government on implementation of this evidence-based harm reduction initiative.

“In addition to providing critical and credible information, these services offer opportunities to link people with health and harm reduction professionals.

“We look forward to working closely with Queensland Health and the service delivery partners to evaluate this important work.”

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