Syringe dispensing machines: innovative uses and expanded potentials

Syringe dispensing machines (SDMs) have become an important element of Australia’s harm reduction landscape, with 399 SDMs nationwide in 2021. By expanding needle/syringe coverage, SDMs serves as an important addition to fixed-site harm reduction services. In particular, SDMs are thought to be utilised by many clients who rarely access fixed-site services, representing an underserved population, and one difficult to characterise by traditional surveillance methodologies.

In this presentation, we discuss new developments in SDM design and usage. We describe how SDMs have been expanded in some settings to include naloxone distribution and the distribution of blood-borne virus self-test kits. Crucially, innovations in SDM design have improved methods of characterising SDM clients. These innovations highlight the oft-times untapped potential of SDMs to provide a suite of public health interventions for vulnerable populations.


Daniel O’Keefe, Senior Research Officer, Burnet Institute

Dr. O’Keefe has researched Australian harm reduction services since 2010 both in Australia and internationally and has a particular interest in innovative interventions to reduce harms associated with drug use.


Credited Authors

Peter Higgs, Senior Fellow, Burnet Institute

Paul Dietze, Program Director, Burnet Institute


Click here to view the Presentation Slides