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Victoria Needs A

Potent Synthetic Opioids Plan

Potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and nitazenes have contributed the thousands of overdoses in other countries. In 2022, they contributed to approximately 80,000 fatal overdoses in the USA.

In Australia, there have been recent health alerts indicating that illicit drugs such as cocaine have been adulterated with a range of substances, with an increasing number of alerts involving different nitazenes.

While Australia has so far avoided a surge in the prevalence of these substances, a police seizure of over 11kg of fentanyl in late 2021 highlights the rapidity with which illicit drug markets could be flooded with these substances.


Without access to a safer, regulated drug supply and widespread availability of harm reduction services; this would surely result in a rapid surge in overdoses and the grief that follows; it would also rapidly overwhelm our health system.

In acknowledgement of this risk, Harm Reduction Victoria (HRVic) and the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) have developed a paper calling for the sector and the Victorian Government to work together on developing and delivering a

Potent Synthetic Opioids Plan.

Sione Crawford, CEO of HRVic, says, ‘Victoria is putting in place some good foundations with drug checking promised but we also know we have no time to lose. While so far potent opioid detections have seemed like isolated incidents; we are at the point where these incidents appear to be a pattern and now require a more coordinated response. We need to ensure that all stakeholders are viewing this threat through a public health lens and we need to rapidly convene experts and communities of people who use drugs to support the response. We do not want the community to be grieving any more friends and family in the coming months and years.”


Chris Christoforou, CEO of VAADA says, ‘emergency preparedness in the interests of public health is essential. When crises or natural disasters occur, having a plan that can support those most at risk and those most likely to respond first is crucial. This is why we have worked with Harm Reduction Victoria to develop this paper. By continuing to take a health led approach, and prioritising harm reduction measures, we offer a framework for a Potent Synthetic Opioids Plan to keep Victorians safe. It is through being prepared that we can best avoid the human toll from fentanyl and nitazenes currently being experienced in North America.’


Our paper can be accessed via link below.


Recommendation: Establish a Synthetic Opioids Taskforce under the direction of the Chief AOD Officer to develop and operationalise a Potent Synthetic Opioids Plan, drawing on this framework to ensure that any harms which may occur due to a surge in potent synthetic opioids in Victoria are mitigated.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact David Taylor on 0413 914 206.



JULY 2024 

(Naarm/Melbourne, Victoria, and VIC wide)

!!**COCAINE adulterated with opioid PROTONITAZENE**!!

A white powder sold as cocaine in Melbourne has been found to contain the potent synthetic opioid 'protonitazene'.

There have been recent serious harms in Naarm/Melbourne  associated with a 'white powder' sold as COCAINE that contained the potent opioid PROTONITAZENE.

The product appears to produce strong adverse effects such as loss of consciousness, respiratory depression, and life-threatening hypoxia. (lack of oxygen in your blood).

Protonitazene is faster acting and is much stronger (100x) than heroin.
It is important for everyone- REGARDLESS of the substance you are planning to take- to CARRY NALOXONE. **CARRY ON YOU!!- not keep in a cupboard at home or leave in your car glove box- It could mean the difference between life and death for someone.

Naloxone is a FREE, easy-to-use, easy to get medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose – it is safe to use even if you are not sure whether someone has taken opioids.

HRVic does FREE naloxone administration training EVERY 1st of the month and can also do 1 on 1 training from the NSP every day. 

Naloxone can be accessed at HRVic's NSP and at participating pharmacies, other needle and syringe programs and from the medically supervised injecting centre.
You can find an approved naloxone provider on the Take Home Naloxone program webpage.

Protonitazene is one of the many NITAZENES that have been circulating throughout Australia over the past couple of years.
Read more about the types of Nitazenes and their effects in the latest WHACK magazine OUT NOW at your local NSP or click HERE. 

If you are an HRVic Member and have not yet received a copy in the mail, email us at to UPDATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP.

If you have any questions or want more info visit the Dept of Health alert :

or HRVic's Overdose page on our website:
Be safe out there!

Drug checking.png

Harm Reduction Victoria
Welcomes Drug Checking Trial for Victoria

As Victoria’s peer-based harm reduction organisation for people who use drugs, Harm Reduction Victoria welcomes the Allan Government’s announcment of a drug checking trial over the next 18 months.


HRVic commend the Allan Government for listening to the evidence, experts, and most of all the wider community!

We applaud their commitment to both a fixed site and mobile outreach services, and for planning to make this "important health service” permanent beyond the 18-month implementation period.​

As the premier's statement lays out- the trial is set to begin this summer, with mobile services attending up to 10 music festivals and events and a fixed site to also open at a yet to be disclosed site "located in an inner Melbourne area close to nightlife and transport". around mid-2025. 


"The government states that these services will be able to test the make-up of most pills, capsules, powders, crystals, or liquids and identify harmful chemicals that can lead to death.

Importantly, they said "Trained peer workers and technical experts will be present during testing to provide personalised and confidential health information to help people make better, safer and more informed decisions." 

Read both the Government's press release and HRVic's statement in the below links. 




Drug Checking: Principles of Practice.
A model for Victoria 

MAY 2024

Harm Reduction Victoria and the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association are pleased to publish the paper Drug Checking: Principles of Practice. A Model for Victoria.

This paper has been written by Professor Kate Seear in consultation with sector experts who have experience in running drug checking services along with people who are likely to use such a service.

The paper presents a preferred model for drug checking in Victoria, providing principles for equitable access, an approach to reducing harms for those intending to use drugs, and the establishment of a real time public alert system that can keep our community safe.

It provides the Victorian Government with expert advice on a best practice model, with budgetary considerations and guiding principles to inform how such a service should operate.

Whilst drug checking is often associated with festivals and events where substances may be consumed, it has broader application, as identified by the Coroners Court with most fatalities related to dangerous substances occurring outside of a festival setting. Drug checking has now been recommended in seven Victorian coronial findings.

The paper proposes a fixed site drug checking service in Melbourne where people can attend to have a sample examined, with mobile vans in place to outreach to regional and rural communities.  The service would be part of a wider public early warning system, which would allow health authorities to communicate in real time should the presence of hazardous additive substances be identified

"Drug checking services never recommend that a substance is completely safe to use."


Drug Checking provides individuals an opportunity to see what they are taking and the chance to reconsider consuming it if they find adulterants or toxic doses in it.

International evidence shows that up to 86% of people will discard a substance should they be informed that it is adulterated.

A drug checking service for Victoria is smart public health policy. It will reduce the possibility of exposure to and use of toxic cutters and adulterants and provide an early warning system for the State to communicate about hazardous substances that are in the community before more people are exposed which reduces demand on our overburdened health system and first responders. Help our communities to help ourselves.

Importantly it is an essential frontline defence against the threat of potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and nitazenes, which continue to bear catastrophic consequences overseas.

Harm Reduction Victoria and the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association are committed to working with the Victorian Government to reduce the harms of drug prohibition  in our community through evidence informed, health and peer led solutions.


A pink and white capsule sold as ‘3C-P’ in Melbourne contains the potent opioid protonitazene.


The Department of Health has issued a new Drug Alert about a pink and white capsule or white powder sold as ‘3C-P’ or  in Melbourne containing the potent opioid protonitazene.

Opioids are central nervous system depressants, typically producing a range of effects including pain relief, sedation and respiratory depression (dangerously slow breathing).


Respiratory depression often appears more quickly with novel synthetic opioids (NSOs), increasing the risk of life-threatening overdose.

Protonitazene is an extremely potent NSO, which means it can produce strong effects in very small amounts. 

There has been one serious recent hospitalisation in Victoria associated with this pink and white capsule.

Due to the potency of NSOs, the product produces strong adverse opioid effects such as loss of consciousness, respiratory depression, and life-threatening hypoxia (insufficient oxygen for normal functioning).

It’s important to know the signs of opioid overdose and to carry naloxone to reverse opioid overdose.

HRVic has naloxone available for FREE from our NSP at 299-305 Victoria St Brunswick. We can also do one on one training with you if you don't know how to use. Or check out our info on naloxone on our 'Recognise & Respond to Overdose' page. 

Anyone who experiences adverse drug effects or is present when someone has an unexpected reaction to a drug should seek help immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

23 April 2024

Listen to People Who Use Drugs:  
More Injecting Rooms & More Peer Leadership!

The HRVic response to the

Hon. Jacinta Allan’s

‘Statewide Action Plan to Reduce the Harms of Drug Use' 

We express our deep disappointment at the announcement by the Victorian Government to reject a second injecting room in the Melbourne CBD. The lack of safe spaces to consume drugs is driving overdose rates and resulting in significant harms to our community.

The government has instead announced a “State-Wide Action Plan To Save Lives and Reduce Drug Harm”, that includes a range of measures to address overdoses across the state; including more pharmacotherapy, naloxone and “care and support”, as well as starting the development of a statewide AOD strategy. Essentially implementing all of the recommendations in the Ken Lay report, “except for one” - a second injecting room.

“These are welcome investments; although they would be more effective alongside an injecting room. We will be watching closely to ensure that people who use drugs; the actual community of people directly affected by this issue; are meaningfully included in the design and implementation of all of these new investments.” - Sione Crawford, CEO of Harm Reduction Victoria.

We know that operating large, Medically Supervised Injecting Rooms, such as the one in North Richmond, is an expensive and logistically complicated operation. We know that the Victorian Government was unable to convince businesses and residents in the CBD to overcome their fear and stigma around these services.  

But what we also know; is that these injecting rooms don’t have to be so large, so expensive and so medically supervised. Successful examples from around the world involve fewer medical staff, less clinical oversight and an expanded role for peer support and community-based harm reduction interventions. These are ultimately less expensive and more effective.

“The Government’s new State-Wide Action Plan and forthcoming drug strategy must include many, smaller, peer-based safer drug consumption spaces. This will reduce the burden on amenity in surrounding areas and truly empower people who use drugs to keep ourselves, our friends and our communities safe from overdose and drug-related harms.”

For further comment, contact Harm Reduction Victoria:  (03) 9329 1500




No further updates.



More Harm Reduction and Healthcare,
Not more Cops and Dogs at Festivals 



Community Statement Re. MDMA & Heat and Drug Checking in VIC in 2024

After the recent unfortunate hospitalisations at last week's music festivals due to a mix of mostly MDMA and hot weather, community and experts are crying out for a change but despite this outcry and the coroner's ongoing recommendations for drug checking in Victoria, it feels like we are no closer to drug-checking.


On the ABC Melbourne morning radio show yesterday, the Premier was asked straight up, when we will get drug checking in our state. The good news is she did not rule it out. She also namechecked our amazing program, DanceWize.

DanceWize-a harm reduction event care program, run by Harm Reduction Victoria, was contracted to provide peer led event care and drug harm reduction education at both events, however, with our 25 extensively trained community volunteers, 2 paid staff, and limited resources, it's tough. We handed out free water, sunscreen, and gave harm reduction advice to the 35k strong crowds, but reaching everyone is always a challenge.

DanceWize is a vital frontline service, relying on dedicated community volunteers from all backgrounds for peer harm reduction advice and personalised care at events.

The government's move to increase Police sniffer dog (PAD) and search operations was short-sighted, making people more likely to take drugs in riskier ways.

HR23 16-19 April 2023

Harm Reduction Victoria and DanceWize: HardMission 2023
Medical Episodes

Media Statement 08.01.2024

Sione Crawford, Harm Reduction Victoria CEO said, “In the absence of a legal drug-checking service in Victoria, DanceWize is one of the only ways to help keep people safe when they take illicit drugs at festivals in our state, but we already stretch ourselves to keep up with demand.”  

DanceWize was contracted to provide peer-based harm reduction health promotion and a care space for patrons, for the HardMission event on Saturday the 6th of January.

Our thoughts are with the people who were affected by the adverse health events, as well as their friends and family and the health care workers involved. None of the eight medical episodes that were escalated to critical care by the medical services involved the DanceWize service or volunteers. We work closely with medical services and it appears that this stressful circumstance was handled very well.



⚠️WARNING!!⚠️Stronger than usual heroin seems to be in circulation across Narrm/metro Melbourne city and outer suburbs to the Geelong area.

There have been multiple reports of very strong gear across all areas of Melbourne, and some from Geelong as well.
❗️Please be careful and look after each other while using!

❗️Check on anyone that you come across who appears to be passed out (e.g. on the street, public transport etc.

Please don't worry about waking or 'bothering' someone if you could be saving their life!
❗️CALL 000 IMMEDIATELY if you can not wake them.

🔵discoloured skin (blue or ashen/grey), often around the mouth
😮‍💨shallow or slowed breathing (less than 12 breaths per minute)
🥶cold, clammy skin
🤮vomit or choking
😴snoring/gurgling (sometimes called a “death rattle”)

#drugalert #heroin #communityPSA #carrynaloxone #stopoverdose



77 agencies want a drug checking system in Victoria -aligning with 4 Victorian coronial findings. This will save lives and provide vital information on potentially harmful adulterants that may be in substances prior to consumption.


#drugchecking #harmreduction #sayknowtodrugs #wedeservetochoose #drugcheckinginvictoria #druglawreform

The statement can be found here from 8.30am Monday 23 October: 

In Solidarity.

OCT 25.2023:
Statement of Support of DULF & Condemnation of DULF founders sudden arrest

July 5, 2023

Expressions Of Interest


The Royal Commission into the Victorian Mental Health System, highlighted that lived experience led service delivery and partnership in decision making is a key strategy for reform.


The lived experience leadership strategy project will encompass lived & living experience leadership across Mental health, AOD and Harm Reduction, and will seek to answer questions about LE workforce, partnership, leadership and the barriers needing to be overcome to guide the LE leadership strategy

The Department of Health has been funded SHARC to engage, contract and support LE technical experts to contribute and help guide the project coordinator around the LLE technical experts areas of expertise:

  • Mental Health – Consumers

  • Mental Health – Family & Carers

  • AOD – Consumers

  • AOD – Family & Carers

  • Harm Reduction

The LE leadership strategy project is seeking a number of experienced LE technical experts with extensive experience in working from a lived or living experience particularly at a strategic and systems level.

A call for expression of interest is now open, see document attached, EOI form needs to be completed  and sent in by end of day 23rd July 2023

For more information contact people are on page 6 of the EOI document. (ABOVE)

Are you prescribed Methadone (liquid), Buprenorphine (Suboxone® / Subutex®) 
or paying for a monthly/weekly Buvidal® or Sublocade® injection at this Chemist? 

JULY 01 2023


If you have further questions, call the office on 03-93291500 or if you are having trouble call HRVic’s PAMS free phone service on 1800 443 844 (Monday-Friday 10:30AM-5PM) 
or click on the Australian Government's Department of Health & Aged Care PDF here >

Our National peak organisation AIVL is holding an ONLINE Consumers Forum on the changes to ODT (Opioid Dependence Treatment) dosing fees on Friday 30 June at 3pm.

Register HERE to attend this online Q&A forum for anyone on pharmacotherapy



Harm Reduction Victoria



Intl. Overdose Awareness Day

Complete IOAD Rally 2022 Promo Kit 

Incl. social media tiles, posters, flyer and FB profile frame

Flyer ONLY .pdf

to print



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following post contains the names and stories of proud Aboriginal women now resting in the Dreaming.

The Inquest into the death of
Ronnie Nelson Began This Week....

Veronica M Nelson: Inquest (

This case is imperative- firstly, to ensure justice for Veronica and secondly, for many of us, past and present, in the community.

We at Harm Reduction Victoria are watching this inquest carefully to understand whether her health status is seen to have impacted on how she was treated and why it appears that basic duties of care were not followed in our Victorian system.

This affects too many of us in similar situations.

Video Presentation

The NarcoFeminism Story Share Project

HRVic are proud to share with our community, this amazing new video featuring the narcofeminism story share model of the North Carolina Urban Survivors Union. In this video we hear from womxn who use drugs as they share stories about their drug use, stigma, discrimination, pregnancy and parenting. 

Watch the video here

Or listen to it as a podcast here:

The story share model is an important tool for deconstructing the internalized narratives around the drug war.  

Traditional story share models often reinforce tropes and stigma we find in existing cultural narrative projects.  Reproductive Harm Reduction is an inclusive powerful new paradigm focused on pregnant and parenting people who use drugs, and it was born from the Narcofeminism story share experience.


Thank you so much to Louise Vincent for conceptualizing and coordinating this video, and to Drugreporter for overseeing the editing and production. 

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