The State Government has ruled out a needle exchange program in prisons.
The Government says while it will look at a trial of the program in a Canberra prison, that does not mean a similar trial will be implemented in WA.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton was speaking at an alcohol and drug forum in Perth today when she acknowledged the high percentage of inmates at Bandyup Women’s Prison with blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C.
Asked whether she would consider a needle exchange trial similar to one about to begin in the ACT, Ms Morton said she had only recently become aware of the trial.
Ms Morton later said the State Government was not considering a needle exchange program in WA prisons.
“I understand there is a potential trial being undertaken in the ACT, and I would like to hear and understand a little bit more about the impact of that,” she said.
“This in no way indicates we are considering a trial for WA.”
Corrective Services Minister Murray Cowper said the government had a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs in WA prisons.
“We have an opportunity to break the cycle of drug use while prisoners are in prison, and a needle exchange program would simply condone and maintain their ongoing drug use,” he said.
The WA Prison Officers’ Union says it would not support such a program.