Needle and Syringe Programs commenced in Western Australia in 1987. The Poisons Amendment Act was introduced in 1994 to allow for the legal provision of needles and syringes by approved programs. Currently, Western Australia has three primary NSP outlets, 99 secondary outlets, one enhanced secondary outlet, and five vending machines. Over the past decade in Western Australia, an increased proportion of needles and syringes have been provided through primary NSPs, while pharmacy provision has correspondingly decreased.

  • Number of NSP - 108
  • Syringes distributed 1999-2008 - 36,555,281
  • Average syringes per year - 3,655,528
  • Total spending 2007/ - $1,415,117
The proportion of Australian IDUs in Western Australia has been steady to slightly increasing over the last decade. The number of needles and syringes distributed in Western Australia has been increasing (see Figure 59). There is a clearly increasing trend in the frequency of injecting in Western Australia but the rate of sharing has been slowly decreasing. The prevalence of HCV among IDUs in WA has been relatively steady. HIV infections are low among Western Australian IDUs.

In 2006/7, 4,039,070 sterile injection equipment units were provided in Western Australia: 9.3% of injecting equipment units distributed in Western Australia were distributed through other outlets (e.g. hospitals, public health units, community health centres, nursing posts and other health related agencies) that could be considered secondary sites. One enhanced secondary site distributed 18,330 needles and syringes in 2007/2008. Western Australia has only had one vending machine operating for most of the past seven years. In late 2007, a further two vending machines were installed, and a further two in 2008. From 2001 to 2005 the vending machine distributed an average of approximately 4,000 packs (i.e. 20,000 needles and syringes) per year, which is <0.5% of needles and syringes distributed in Western Australia. All vending machines in Western Australia are located at regional hospital sites so filling of machines is undertaken by staff at these sites as part of their duties.

A major shift has been seen over the past decade in the proportion of needles and syringes distributed through pharmacies and NSPs. Up until about 2001 pharmacies accounted for two-thirds of needles and syringes distributed in Western Australia; now they only account for about one-third, with NSPs now accounting for over half of the needles and syringes distributed. Pharmacists may choose to sell pre-packaged needle and syringe products in the range of $5 to $8. Pharmacy NSPs operate on a commercial retail basis in Western Australia and are not subsidised by the Department of Health.

The number of NSP sites in Western Australia is listed in Table 36. Table 37 reports the spending by financial year in 2008 dollars, unadjusted and adjusted for the consumer price index (CPI).
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Figure 59: Number of needles and syringes distributed in Western Australia (1999-2008)

Text equivalent below for Figure 59: Number of needles and syringes distributed in Western Australia (1999-2008)

Text version of Figure 59

Figures in this description are approximate as they have been read from the graph.
  • Number of syringes distributed in Western Australia:
  • 1999 - 3,000,000
  • 2000 - 3,200,000
  • 2001 - 3,500,000
  • 2002 - 3,400,000
  • 2003 - 3,600,000
  • 2004 - 3,700,000
  • 2005 - 4,000,000
  • 2006 - 4,300,000
  • 2007 - 4,200,000
  • 2008 - 3,800,000

Table 36: Number of NSP sites in Western Australia

Primary Secondary Enhanced secondaryVending machine sites
2008
3
99
1
5
2007
3
105
1
3
2006
3
100
1
1
2005
3
100
1
1
2004
3
100
1
1
2003
3
100
1
1
2002
3
100
1
1
2001
3
100
1
1
2000
2
80
0
0
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Table 37: Summary of expenditure on NSPs in Western Australia (2000/1-2007/8)

2000/12001/22002/32003/42004/52005/62006/72007/8
Consumables - sterile injecting equipment ($'000)
275
290
313
444
451
437
603
603
Consumables - disposal equipment($'000)
28
44
43
50
65
71
52
52
Consumables - safe sex packs($'000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
4
Consumables sub-total($'000)
302
333
356
495
517
508
658
658
NSP support - primary NSP operations($'000)
483
545
508
637
709
655
653
641
NSP support - support for secondary NSPs($'000)
0
7
9
10
10
10
10
10
NSP support - transport($'000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NSP support - vending machines($'000)
10
0
0
0
0
0
55
55
NSP support sub-total($'000)
493
552
517
647
719
665
718
706
Total (unadjusted for CPI)($'000)
795
885
873
1,142
1,235
1,173
1,376
1,365
Total in 2008 (adjusted for CPI)($'000)
1,005
1,086
1,039
1,328
1,400
1,293
1,469
1,415

Notes provided

Data was unavailable for 2007/8 so was extrapolated from 2006/7.

Transport – transport costs for equipment items to primary NSPs are generally met as part of equipment costs. As the Department of Health WA has moved to a new centralised purchasing system for supply of equipment to primary NSPs in 2008/2009, it is evident that one of the suppliers itemises freight costs separately on invoices, but prior to this transport costs cannot be determined. For secondary NSPs (hospitals etc), the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program provides Fitsticks® at no costs to the service; however, the service meets the cost of couriering the goods.

These cost figures include all equipment (needles, syringes, swabs, disposal containers etc) distributed through primary needle and syringe exchange programs (NSPs). As some items are cost recovered through NSPs, this income has been deducted from the total cost figure. Also included in this costing is the cost of all prepacked products (Fitpacks®, Fitsticks ®) provided for distribution through secondary needle and syringe programs (NSPs) such as hospitals, public health units, community health centres, nursing posts etc.

The cost figures for 'Spending on disposal equipment' are mainly the costs incurred by the primary NSPs for used needle and syringe waste disposal costs. In 2000/2001 and 20001/2002, a small amount of funding ($6,090 and $12,000 respectively) was spent on purchase of needle and syringe bins for installation in public settings, these bins were mainly provided to Local Government Authorities. These costs are included in the above figures.

Includes funding for COAG NSP projects, but does not include funding for Department of Health and Ageing Hepatitis C Education and Prevention or National Illicit Drug Strategy (NIDS) funded projects.

Other items that could be considered include: Cost to State/Territory health departments for administering programs e.g. staffing costs.

Costs involved in resource production e.g. in 2006/2007 in WA $11,320 was spent on the production on labels for Fitpacks® and Fitsticks®. There are also other resources that are produced but in total are probably not a major budget item.

There is also a range of NSP workforce development projects that are not included.

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