A long-awaited static pill testing site in Canberra's city centre is expected to finally to go ahead early next year after funding was committed to the project in the ACT's budget.
There was $260,000 allocated to a six-month trial of the pill testing fixed-site in the budget, but the cost will be fully offset by the health funding envelope.
Health authorities are currently in discussions with a range of government and non-government agencies regarding the pilot at a city site that has yet to be determined.
As part of the trial, researchers at the Australian National University and a coalition of partners have been given a grant of $63,669 to design a study to provide real-time feedback on the trial and the feasibility of the establishment of a longer-term service.
"Drawing on expertise from across the ACT community, partners will be empowered to work alongside the service providers, informing processes and improving delivery," an ACT Health spokesman said.
"Contributing to practical outcomes on the ground here in the ACT, the project will ensure that the service is fit for purpose, providing accurate drug and harm reduction information to lower mortality and morbidity associated with drug use."
The ACT government agreed to explore the idea of a fixed-site pill testing trial in the Legislative Assembly last year, following a push from the ACT Greens.
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The fixed-site trial was originally intended to go ahead over last summer but it proved too difficult to deliver the pilot in a short period.
Pill testing trials have already taken place in the territory at the Groovin The Moo music festivals in 2018 and 2019.
ACT Greens health spokesman Johnathan Davis said he welcomed the trial but hoped the service would be made permanent.
"There are many people in our community who use drugs and lead otherwise normal lives. Pill testing is part of our government's role to help people stay healthy and safe," Mr Davis said.
"Pill testing is part of the essential transition to treating drug use in our community as a health issue. It goes hand in hand with reducing stigma and supporting drug users experiencing problems.
"I look forward to seeing pill testing rolled out as soon as possible and would like for this to be a continuous service, providing ongoing support to members of our community."
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