HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Heroin Trial Likely - Expert
Pubdate: Mon, 19 Feb 2001
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 The Age Company Ltd
Contact:  250 Spencer Street, Melbourne, 3000, Australia
Author: Chloe Saltau with Andra Jackson


Victoria is likely to have a heroin trial if there is a change of 
leadership in Canberra this year, according to an expert who is about to 
take a senior role in the Bracks Government's battle against drug abuse.

Paul McDonald, Victoria's Youth Substance Abuse Service founding chief 
executive, has been appointed to develop and implement drug strategies for 
the Department of Human Services.

He said it was "not a matter of if, but when" a heroin trial went ahead in 
Victoria. Such a trial depends on a change in the federal political 
climate. With a federal election looming, a controlled, medically 
supervised heroin trial is a possibility in Victoria.

"When you look at the soul-destroying, damaging lifestyle for thousands of 
young adults and their family groups, we have to have a trial," Mr McDonald 
said. "But there's not much that can be done until the Commonwealth moves."

His comments come after police warned that Melbourne was in the grip of a 
severe heroin shortage.

Senior Detective Nigel L'Estrange of Flemington CIU said there had also 
been a drop in heroin purity that had led to a rise in violent crime.

The Youth Substance Abuse Service, dedicated to treating addiction in 12 to 
21-year-olds, was set up as a result of Dr David Penington's report to the 
Kennett government in 1996.

In his most recent set of recommendations on illicit drug abuse, handed to 
Health Minister John Thwaites last November, Dr Penington urged the 
government to press ahead with preparations for a properly controlled trial 
of prescription heroin for registered addicts in anticipation of a change 
of government or in the Liberal leadership.

Prime Minister John Howard has ruled out such a trial. The concept 
attracted bipartisan political support in Victoria before Mr Howard vetoed 
attempts to set up a prescription program in the ACT.
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