Needle Syringe Program National Minimum Data Collection Report 2020

The Needle Syringe Program National Minimum Data Collection (NSP NMDC) supports the National Strategies for blood borne and sexually transmissible infections and complements the annual Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey National Data Report.

All eight Australian jurisdictions operate a range of NSP services targeting a variety of drug use and client populations. Despite some variation in levels of completeness and alignment, all jurisdictions provide data incorporating the following three components: NSP service type and location, non-identifiable client occasions of service, and needle syringe distribution.

This is the fifth annual national data report which presents national and state/territory NSP data over the period 2015/16 to 2019/20.

Key findings
  • Australia's network of 4,159 NSP services was comprised of 104 primary, 811 secondary and 2,867 pharmacy NSPs in 2019/20. These face to face services were supplemented by 377 syringe dispensing machines. In 2020, n=169 NSPs in seven jurisdictions provided programs to facilitate access to take-home naloxone.
  • Based on 2,500 NSP occasions of service (OOS) recorded at primary and secondary NSPs that participated on the snapshot day in 2020, almost half (45%) of NSP OOS involved provision of Health Education/Interventions and one in ten involved a referral.
  • Three in four (73%) NSP attendees were male, two thirds (67%) were aged between 30 and 49 years, young people (aged <25 years) comprised 4% of OOS in 2019 and excluding occasions of service where Indigenous status was not reported, 21% of NSP attendees identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
  • Stimulants and hallucinogens (predominantly methamphetamine) were the most commonly reported drugs injected on the snapshot day in 2020 (46%), followed by analgesics (heroin, other opioids and opioid substitution therapies, 36%) and anabolic agents and selected hormones (predominantly anabolic steroids, 9%).
  • Australian NSPs distributed 57.8 million needles and syringes in 2019/20. These were distributed to an estimated population of 75,756 people who inject drugs (excluding people who inject occasionally). This equates to 762 needles/syringes each per annum, exceeding the UNAIDS definition of high syringe coverage by more than three-fold. Syringe coverage (syringes per injection) remained at >100% in 2020.