There is no minimum age for people attending a Needle and Syringe Program. However, Needle and Syringe Program workers must counsel minors and actively encourage them into health services and treatment.
The average age at which injecting drug users commence injecting is 18. Therefore, it is vital that young people are given access to Needle and Syringe Programs. The arrangements for dealing with minors seeking injecting equipment vary among the states and territories. In some jurisdictions, there are mandatory notification requirements so that workers have to report minors attending Needle and Syringe Programs to the Department of Community Services.
Needle and Syringe Program training varies between the states and territories however it does outline the importance of linking young people to health services including drug and alcohol programs.
- Young people need the same protection from HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B as adults.
- Needle and Syringe Program workers undergo training on identifying and responding to young injecting drug users.
Wesley Noffs - Ted Noffs Foundation (providing services to young people with drug and alcohol problems):
Needle and Syringe Programs have played a significant part in the reduction of blood borne viral infections in Australia for over two decades. Needle and Syringe Programs are a success story but remain under-appreciated by the general population. The people who work in these programs are real heroes and deserve to be recognised. Countless lives saved, much suffering averted, we support these programs passionately.