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December 2020 Meeting – Impacts and Opportunities of COVID-19

Topic: Impacts of Covid on drug markets, drug use patterns and drug related harms. Professor Paul Dietze Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks Burnet Institute

Professor Paul Dietze is one of Australia’s leading alcohol and other drug epidemiologists with a significant national, and emerging international profile. He is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and a past ARC Future Fellow and VicHealth Public Health Research Fellow. With more than 20 years’ experience and an outstanding track record, his work has established internationally innovative surveillance systems and applied research designs that break new ground in the public health research into alcohol and other drug use and related harms in Australia.

Topic: From Global to Local – Can COVID be a game changer to re-energise harm reduction?

Dr Nicholas Thomson is currentlty based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he is involved in a large research project exploring opportunities for transitioning from war to peace in the context of illicit drug economies in Myanmar, Afghanistan and Colombia. He is mainly focused on the Myanmar site and its large-scale methamphetamine and heroin production in Kachin and Shan States, its connection to ongoing conflicts and the implications for widespread drug use and how health responses such as harm reduction can function and expand to scale in complicated environments. More locally, Nick has been part of a multi-agency, multi-sector group in Frankston (RAD-FMP) that works on a range of efforts to improve access to services and reduce vulnerability to alcohol and drug harms. Nick has long term interests in how different stakeholders across the health, security and broader community can better support harm reduction and its ability to expand its repertoire of activities and push out further the margins of its influence.

Gary Morris,  Manager, Alcohol and Drug Service Development and Design DHHS gave an update on some key topics in 2020 including progress towards naloxone legislation change, public drunkenness activity, and the proposed new injecting room.

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