Debra Alexander, Sione Crawford, Michael Curtis, Professor Paul Dietze, Paul Hamilton, Penny Hill, Danny Jeffcote, Professor Mark Stoové, Sean Swift, Rebecca Thatcher


Needle and syringe programs (NSP) are a harm reduction initiative which provide sterile injecting equipment and safer sex items to people free of charge. Through the distribution of sterile injecting and sex items, NSPs can reduce the transmission of blood borne viruses such as hepatitis c and HIV(1, 2). There are six primary NSPs and numerous secondary services in metropolitan Melbourne. Currently, each NSP collects routine service administration data relating to the number of injecting or safer sex items being distributed, time of distribution and gender of the recipient; however there is no coordinated data collection between services regarding how recipients intend to use distributed items, with some services asking additional questions on an ad-hoc basis. Building on work previous undertaken by the Burnet Institute to evaluate the St Kilda 24-Hour NSP(3), this study will establish a near Melbourne-wide system to monitor how NSPs are being used and identify service-specific trends in service provision. The study may support NSPs to improve their services to clients through a greater understanding of localised issues. Similar questions are included in standard needle and syringe program service provision data collection in Queensland, and have been successful in identifying trends in substance use and regional patterns of NSP use(4).

1.Kwon JA, Anderson J, Kerr CC, Thein HH, Zhang L, Iversen J, et al. Estimating the cost-effectiveness of needle-syringe programs in Australia. AIDS ). 2012;26(17):2201-10.

2. Platt L, Minozzi S, Reed J, Vickerman P, Hagan H, French C, et al. Needle syringe programmes and opioid substitution therapy for preventing hepatitis C transmission in people who inject drugs. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2017;9:Cd012021.

3. Kirwan A, Curtis M, Walker S, Woods E, Dietze P. St Kilda 24-Hour NSP Evaluation. Melbourne: The Burnet Institute; 2019.

4. Queensland Health. Queensland Minimum Data Set for Needle and Syringe Programs 2018. Brisbane: State of Queensland; 2019.


The research will aim to:

- Identify service use trends

- Describe service user experiences, needs and outcomes

Who Will Benefit?

Clients and health service workers at NSPs in Victoria


The research will be based on two key activities; administrative data collection and data analysis.

- Administrative data collection: the BI team will support and train the service to undertake snapshot surveys with approximately 1000 clients per service (based on evaluation of St Kilda 24-Hour NSP – actual numbers may be lower and will vary subject to demand at each service) which add a small number of additional questions to those routinely asked of all clients when they access the service;

A quarterly report detailing all of the above activities will be developed during the study.


The first round of data collection occurred in February 2020. 




For more information relating to this project, please contact Michael Curtis: