August 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day. The Day seeks to educate the community on how to identify and respond to an overdose and to reduce the stigma associated with overdoses.

The central message is that every overdose from drug use is preventable. In 2017, there were 1,612 unintentional drug-induced deaths, with the largest age group being those aged 40-49.

We know that harm minimisation, education and compassion are critical to reducing deaths from overdose. I acknowledge the important work of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, the NSW Users and AIDS Association, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, as well as health workers across the Inner West, including those who operate Needle Exchange Programs at Marrickville Community health Centre and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

I also acknowledge the many parents and families who have lost loved ones to overdoses. I have had the privilege of meeting many families impacted by drug use and to hear their stories. I have been inspired by their passionate advocacy to ensure the conversation around drug use and overdose is focused on evidence and compassion. I thank them and I thank all those organisations across the community who marked International Overdose Day.