Harm Reduction Program

What is Harm Reduction?

Harm minimisation is Australia’s approach to drugs and drug use, particularly illicit drug use. Reducing supply, demand and harm are all parts of harm minimisation.

To prevent drugs from being transported, manufactured, and sold, supply reduction is mostly found in law enforcement and border control.

In demand reduction, people are educated and treated, with an aim that they will stop buying or using drugs.

People who use legal and illegal drugs are encouraged to use harm reduction approaches in order to reduce harm and negative impacts.

In the 1980s, harm reduction was introduced in Australia. Sydney was the first state to open a needle and syringe program (NSP) in 1986, with the rest of Australia following shortly after. All major cities and most regional areas of the country now offer NSP and other harm reduction services. Drug use can be reduced in a pragmatic, effective and evidence-based manner through harm reduction.

There are many reasons why people use drugs. Among other purposes, they use them to relax, relieve pain and cope with physical, psychological and emotional pain. Drugs are used for their benefits, not for the problems they may encounter.

Services for harm reduction include:

  • Needle and syringe programs (NSP)
  • Education by peers
  • Injecting facilities with medical supervision
  • Training programs for overdose prevention
  • Pill testing

Despite receiving the least amount of funding, harm reduction is extremely effective. Health costs are estimated to be saved by $27 for every $1 spent on NSP in Australia. These programs have prevented thousands of HIV and Hepatitis C transmissions, and people who use them have better access to health care.

BHN Harm Reduction Services

BHN has provided harm reduction services for many years. In the southern bayside area of Melbourne, we offer the following services to people who use drugs:

Drug users and community members who want to know more about how to support their friends and families can access these services for information, support, and resources without judgment.