National wastewater drug monitoring program: report 1, March 2017

Drug traffic Drug use Forensic sciences Australia

The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program will provide leading-edge, coordinated national research and intelligence on illicit drugs and licit drugs that can be abused, with a specific focus on methylamphetamine and 12 other substances.

Wastewater analysis is widely applied internationally as a tool to measure and interpret drug use within national populations. The Australian Government has recognised the considerable benefits of wastewater analysis and has partnered with established scientific expertise within Australian academic institutions to introduce a national program based on international models.

The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is a key initiative in establishing an objective evidence base on illicit drug use and the level of use of a number of legitimate substances.  The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission commissioned the University of Queensland and the University of South Australia to deliver the capability and prepare the first National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report.

This first National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program Report confirms the concerns expressed in the former ACC report The Australian Methylamphetamine Market—The National Picture of March 2015.

This document is the first of nine public reports which will share results of a national wastewater drug monitoring program over the next three years. This data will provide statistically valid datasets of methylamphetamine usage and distribution patterns across 51 sites in capital city and regional areas across all states and territories. The program covers approximately 58 per cent of the population, or over 14 million people.

The report is intended to provide concrete data to inform a range of disciplines—including health, education, law enforcement and the not-for-profit sector—in formulating their responses to the complex issues posed by drug markets. As the program evolves, it will be possible to evaluate existing and future response initiatives.

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