CanTEST Health & Drug Checking

The ACT Government has launched Australia’s first fixed-site health and drug checking service as a six-month pilot. The CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service is operated by Directions Health Services and CAHMA with technical assistance from Pill Testing Australia. This is a free service. Drug checking is a harm reduction service (also known as pill testing) that analyses the contents of drugs to help service users better understand the unknown and potentially dangerous substances in illicit drugs. Appropriate information, counselling and advice are provided to service users based on their specific test result, to encourage choices that reduce overall drug use and the harms associated with taking illicit drugs.

Location

CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service
Ground floor, City Community Health Centre
1 Moore Street, Canberra City, ACT

Opening hours

  • every Thursday from 10am – 1pm
  • every Friday from 6pm – 9pm

Services provided

  • chemical analysis of pills/drugs intended for personal use
  • tailored information, harm reduction advice and counselling based on the test results and any other issues raised by qualified alcohol and other drug workers, peer workers and nurses.
  • drop-in nurse consultations offering general health, sexual health and mental health advice. Clients don’t have to have drugs tested to use this service.

The service is free and confidential. The service will be independently evaluated and results of the pilot will be used to determine future activities.

Background to drug checking pilot

Drug checking facilities have been effectively used internationally since the 1990s and are currently available in 20 countries within Europe and the Americas, as well as New Zealand.

The second Australian trial of a drug checking service was conducted by Pill Testing Australia at the Canberra Groovin the Moo festival in April 2019 as one element of a broader harm reduction approach.

This followed the first drug checking trial at the same festival in 2018. The 2019 trial was independently evaluated by the Australian National University – research that is a first of its kind in Australia. See the final evaluation report for further information.

ACT Health has developed The Festivals Pill Testing Policy, which provides guidance to event planners regarding harm minimisation at large events such as music festivals.