Family Drug Support Australia
Support Line: 1300 368 186
(available 24 hours 7 days a week)

About FDS

  • Intro
  • Mission
  • Philosophy
  • We Believe
  • FDS submission to the NSW Coronial Inquiry into deaths at music festivals
Tony Trimingham          Tony Trimingham
         CEO and founder
Family Drug Support was formed in 1997 after its founder Tony Trimingham lost his son to a heroin overdose. Bereft, Tony felt frustrated by the general apathy and ignorance of his own experience.
 
This was also the plight of many other families.
 
Realising this was but the tip of the iceberg, a public meeting was called where hundreds of people attended.
 
FDS was formed as a result.
 
FDS is a caring, non-religious and non judgemental organisation.
 
FDS is primarily made up of volunteers who have experienced first-hand the trauma and chaos of having family members with drug dependency.
 
Most have travelled the same road.
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profileMISSION STATEMENT

To assist families throughout Australia to deal with alcohol and drug issues in a way that strengthens relationships and achieves positive outcomes.
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philosophyOur energies are given in primarily supporting families struggling as a result of drug use. We aim to assist in any way possible to empower families to cope with the realisation of their situation and to survive it intact. To this end we offer a seven day, 24 hour telephone line Australia-wide, manned by volunteers offering help to diffuse crisis, proffering strategies for coping and giving any information required. We believe families are important.
 
They are the ones who understand their family member more so than anyone else. If left to work through issues in isolation, families can become exhausted and give up. However, when supported they can become a vital force for positive change. FDS is committed to working with professional organisations and forming constructive partnerships. Armed with collective wisdom, FDS has adopted a view of harm minimisation.
 
We aim therefore to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug use for the community and for the individual. We do not condone or encourage illegal behaviour of any kind. FDS does, however, have a commitment to the reform of some drug laws. We believe the use of all drug substances should be decriminalised. We would like crimes committed as a result of drug use to be carefully assessed and where possible, perpetrators diverted to treatment and not sentenced to jail.
 
FDS has no sympathy or tolerance for major crime i.e. violence/drug importation.
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hands2In the interpersonal, family, social and political factors needing to be considered when planning drug prevention and treatment strategies.
 
In real changes occurring when individuals, families and the community participate in the process.
 
In education, health promotion and treatment activities linked to a continuum of service provisions providing a coherent and interrelated range of services.
 
In encouraging education and treatment, and promoting improved outcomes for users, their families and the community.
 
In contributing to the development and skills of volunteers.
 
In working in partnerships with governments and other agencies to effectively achieve these objectives.
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Below is an abridged written submission by Tony Trimingham OAM on behalf of Family Drug Support in relation to the coronial inquiry into music festival deaths.

There are currently reports in the media that the coroner has recommended key strategies from Tony’s submission. For example, police presence can cause more harm than good, and that they should abolish sniffer dogs and body searches. Secondly, pill testing should be trialled, as the most important thing is to keep people safe and alive. Politicians still need to be convinced to allow trials to begin. FDS will continue to lobby that the coroner's recommendations should be taken seriously.

FDS supports pill testing

  • FDS has been an advocate for pill testing since first learning about it being offered in Europe approximately 20 years ago.

  • The worst thing a family can experience in dealing with drug issues is the death of a family member. Our organisation believes preventing death and keeping people safe should be the first priority of drug policy and services to address the drug problem.

  • FDS receives more than 35 000 contacts per annum and over 2000 families attend our support groups and courses each year.

  • Drug deaths have escalated in the last three years and I have personally spoken to more people who have experienced bereavement in the last six months, than in the last six years. The pain of losing someone well before their time and to a death that is preventable is almost impossible to bear.

  • We receive a lot of calls from families to talk about pill testing. These include some of the families who have lost people at festivals, but a lot more calls are from people with family members who attend festivals and take substances. Nobody can understand why we have not adopted pill testing at every festival. It is very disappointing to hear that the only argument governments ever put forward against pill testing is that it will give someone a green light to use drugs.

  • Nobody can say or does say that any drug use is safe to use, however, what we do know is that some pills and capsules contain substances that are definitely unsafe to use. This is the main reason we should introduce pill testing without delay.

  • Other positive reasons for pill testing is that it allows interaction between the doctors, chemists and counsellors with people who are attending the festivals and who intend to consume substances. This interaction is invaluable.

  • As well as this, testing substances at festivals gives an early warning of what substances are being used, particularly when they are new on the scene.

  • For these reasons we need pill testing and there are no arguments to counter this.

  • “Front of house” versus “back of house” pill testing.

  • There is a debate between “front of house” and “back of house” pill testing. We believe front of house testing is the only way that is acceptable to families. It means the testing is included in the medical section of the festival, it is clearly marked so people can see what it is and people have easy access to it. It is in an environment where people can have casual and safe communication with the experts.

  • The families we have spoken with consider front of house testing has the great advantage of critical engagement with festival attendees.

  • The alternative method, “back of house” testing which has been proposed by many people and seems to be popular with governments, is not something we could ever endorse. In this scenario, the testing is done towards the rear of the event and is under the control of and monitored by the police.

  • Also, with back of house testing, the results of the tests are not conveyed directly to the festival goer but are put on noticeboards and on forums such as Facebook.

  • The families we have spoken to do not want pill testing that is managed by police. The idea that back of house testing is better than nothing is not acceptable to FDS and the families we represent. We say there is evidence that front of house pill testing is better as a harm minimisation strategy than back of house testing and should be the preferred model.

  • FDS is also concerned about the presence of police and sniffer dogs at festivals causing more harm than good. There have been reports of people seeing them and consuming their drugs, sometimes with tragic outcomes. There are other reports of police harassing people and conducting improper strip searches.
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We Believe

hands2In the interpersonal, family, social and political factors needing to be considered when planning drug prevention and treatment strategies.
 
In real changes occurring when individuals, families and the community participate in the process.
 
In education, health promotion and treatment activities linked to a continuum of service provisions providing a coherent and interrelated range of services.
 
In encouraging education and treatment, and promoting improved outcomes for users, their families and the community.
 
In contributing to the development and skills of volunteers.
 
In working in partnerships with governments and other agencies to effectively achieve these objectives.