An ethnographic study of heroin markets and health-related harm in Melbourne

  • Research program: Ethnographic Research
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: July 2003
  • Expected end date: July 2003
  • Completion date: November 2010
  • Funded by: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation
  • Lead organisation:

The use of heroin is associated with several health-related problems, the most serious of which is overdose. However, there is little qualitative data on heroin-related health problems. In order to rectify this absence, this ethnographic project aims to investigate the social, cultural and economic factors shaping heroin use and heroin-related harm in the St Kilda area of Melbourne. The research will provide greater knowledge of the factors contributing to heroin-related health problems, in general, and overdose, in particular, through an increased understanding of the relationship between the characteristics of heroin markets and the purchasing decisions and consumption patterns of heroin users. Such knowledge is essential to the formulation of appropriate health policies and interventions concerning heroin use.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
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Professor Paul Dietze
Tel: 61 (0)3 9282 2134
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Harm reduction policy and strategies


  • Co-investigator: Greg Rumbold, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre

Professor David Moore
Tel: 61 (0)3 9479 8718
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Moore, D. (2009). 'Workers', 'clients' and the struggle over needs: Understanding encounters between service providers and street-based injecting drug users in an Australian city. Social Science and Medicine, 68, (6), pp. 1161-1168. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.12.015 [RJ603] View web page

Moore, D. and Fraser, S. (2006). Putting at risk what we know: Reflecting on the drug-using subject in harm reduction and its political implications. Social Science and Medicine, 62, (12), pp. 3035-3047. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.11.067 [RJ476] View web page

Moore, D. and Dietze, P. (2005). Enabling environments and the reduction of drug-related harm: Re-framing Australian policy and practice. Drug and Alcohol Review, 24, (3), pp. 275-284. DOI: 10.1080/09595230500170258 [RJ454] View web page

Moore, D. (2004). Governing street-based injecting drug users: A critique of heroin overdose prevention in Australia. Social Science and Medicine, 59, (7), pp. 1547-1557. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.01.029 [RJ426] View web page

Moore, D. and Dietze, P. (2004). Overdose prevention and street-based injecting drug use: Why we're heading in the wrong direction. In Harper, K. (ed.) Services Directory for Drug and Alcohol Users. Fitzroy Legal Service, Fitzroy. pp. 288-290. [CH108]

Moore, D. and Dietze, P. (2004). Responding to street-based heroin overdose, injecting drug use and sex work: A risk environment approach. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology & School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University. [R181]