Canberra could be getting a safe injecting room

The government will consider setting up a safe injecting room in Canberra in response to a rise in opioid-related deaths.

But it appears to have taken a step back from investigating raising the smoking age and banning smoking from prisons, with both not explicitly mentioned in the drug strategy report released on Tuesday.

The government will investigate setting up a safe injecting room in Canberra. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The government will investigate setting up a safe injecting room in Canberra. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The long awaited ACT Drug Strategy Action Plan outlined 43 "priority actions" over the next three years to tackle the harms from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

The government released a draft report earlier this year, but a safe injecting room was not mentioned.

But a report created after the consultation period said there was significant support for a medically supervised injecting facility.

The final report said the government would "investigate the feasibility, need, effectiveness and appropriateness of establishing a medically supervised drug consumption facility (supervised injecting facility) in the ACT".

It also flagged expanding access to hepatitis and HIV education and prevention, including expanding access to sterile injecting equipment.

Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the government would explore a safe injecting room because of a concerning rise in opioid deaths.

“We are focused on addressing the harm we are seeing from an increasing use and misuse of opioids, both illicit and prescription – a trend that is being seen nationally and internationally," she said.

"We will look at ways to address this trend such as increasing access to naloxone in the community."

Ms Fitzharris said there were more than 1,000 admissions to ACT hospitals from overdoses every year.

“These overdoses are the result of alcohol consumption as well as the use of other drugs such as heroin, methamphetamines and pharmaceutical opioids," she said.

“We know that the effects of drug use can be devastating, not only for those who use drugs, but also for their friends and family and the broader community."

A draft report released earlier this year flagged a number of measures to curb smoking rates including researching the potential impact of raising the legal purchase age for tobacco and considering the need for smoke free correctional facilities.

But these measures were not mentioned in the final report.

A report produced after the consultation period said there were strong views both for and against raising the legal purchase age for tobacco, and about allowing smoking in prisons.

Ms Fitzharris said the action plan had a focus on better partnerships, with the creation of an advisory group.

“The advisory group will play a critical role in identifying emerging drug use patterns and informing implementation and future priority actions," she said.

“It will have representation from government, peak bodies, service providers, consumers and priority population groups and will work with the ACT Health Directorate to develop an evaluation and monitoring framework to measure progress in meeting the action plan’s objectives."

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Association ACT CEO Carrie Fowlie said the framework would help reduce drug related harm in Canberra.

"[The association] strongly supports the plan's central commitments to people and families who experience the greatest burden of harms, evidence, partnerships and governance to ensure that actions are prioritised to meet the Canberra community's needs.

"[The association] looks forward to being part of the evaluation, implementation and further refinement of the plan."