COVID-19 / CDATs/LDATs/Schools

FDS Submission to the Inquiry into Recognition of Unpaid Carers - 11 Aug 2023

FDS Submission to the Inquiry into Recognition of Unpaid CarersFDS 24 7

11 August 2023

Read our submission and support letter to the Unpaid Carers Parliamentary Inquiry here.

A special thank you to the Australian Alcohol and Drugs Council, Victorian Alcohol and Other Drug Association (VAADA), Yarra Drug and Health Forum, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Australia and Harm Reduction Australia for endorsing the submission.

 We as a collective believe:

  •  Families affected by the substance use and associated co-occurring needs are a hidden population of carers.
  • The majority of such family members are female identifying, talking to the gendered nature of unpaid care.
  • Stigma and discrimination due to drug policies and laws, prevent families from accessing support.
  • Specialised, tailored programs are needed to adequately respond to the unique experiences of families in this situation.
  • Investing in support programs for families and carers is progressing gender equity standards throughout Australia.

 We acknowledge the often, invisible work of many families who continue to provide their family members with hope and opportunities. This is nothing short of lifesaving work.


Read here: 20231108_-_FDS_Submission_to_the_Inquiry_into_the_recognition_of_unpaid_carers.pdf

Overdose Awareness Day FDS SA - Media Release - 31 Aug 2023


31 August 2023

Family Drug Support response to Glenelg Rehab Facility 31 August 2023

Today is Overdose Awareness Day and we would like to remind everyone that community based treatment options are still lacking – a vital component in reducing the harms associated with substance use, including overdose. In SA we are in support of accessible services in our suburbs, including the new residential treatment program in Glenelg that has been targeted by protestors and negative publicity in the last few weeks. Our families are overwhelmingly in support of local services and we are honoured to speak out in support of their needs.




International FDS Day 2022 Media Release

24 February 2022
International Family Drug Support Day 2022
Families Demand Change

Founder and CEO of Family Drug Support (FDS), Tony Trimingham OAM, who started the organisation after the death of his son Damien 25 years ago to the day, said that it was now abundantly clear that the national drug policy debate was missing a critically important voice - families.

Mr Trimingham added, “It appears that everyone has a say on our current drug policies, including politicians, police, religious leaders and media commentators, yet families are too often left out of these discussions, despite being the people, along with the people using drugs, most affected by the current policies.” 

“In our recent Voices to be Heard Survey of over 600 family members affected by someone else’s drug and alcohol use, families were unambiguous about their deep dissatisfaction with the status quo regarding drug policy. This was especially the case with the zealousness of government to pursue the punitive responses rather than those of compassion, which are far more effective in reducing harm and exacerbating problems for families.”

In looking at the results of the survey, families overwhelmingly support the following:

  • Needle & syringe programs (87.5%)
  • Pill testing services (85.7%)
  • Pharmacotherapy (methadone, buprenorphine etc.) programs (86.3%)
  • Medically supervised injecting centres (83.1%)
  • Medicinal cannabis (83.9%)
  • Prescription heroin programs (74.8%)

In addition, families wanted to see resources allocated to harm and demand reduction strategies by a factor of almost 7:1 when compared to law enforcement strategies.

The reality being experienced by families from the extraordinarily harmful legal consequences of drug use resulted in families overwhelmingly supporting the legalisation of cannabis and strongly supporting the decriminalisation of all currently illicit drugs.

Furthermore, it is also clear that families often try tough love approaches (60%) when trying to deal with drug and alcohol issues with family members but find them to be ineffective and problematic.

As a result, families become far more in favour of strategies that encourage connection and coping (86%), with as few as 10% continuing to support tough love approaches.

Mr Trimingham said – “It is definitely time for these voices to be heard and for change to happen. Families are demanding reform and governments simply need to start listening”.

A copy of the survey report is available is here.

 Mr Trimingham also wanted to thank the many sponsors and supporters that are helping with International Family Drug Support Day and supporting families.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Tony Trimingham
Founder & CEO
Family Drug Support
0412 414 444

IFDS Day 2021 - Media Alert - 19 Feb 2021


19 February 2021

International Family Drug Support Day 2021

Families impacted by drug use gather in Parliament House for major event

Families impacted by drug use – along with alcohol and other drug (AOD) experts and Federal politicians – will mark International Family Drug Support Day by gathering in Parliament House’s Dame Enid Lyons Alcove on Wednesday, 24 February to raise awareness about how families can be better supported when a family member experiences problems with alcohol or other drugs.

Family Drug Support CEO, Tony Trimingham, said families were often distraught when a family member experienced substance use issues, and that many suffered unnecessary and cruel stigma and discrimination as a result.

pdfRead more: IFDS Day 2021 - Media Alert - 19 Feb 2021.pdf

An FDS COVID-19 Response - 7 Sep 2020


7 September 2020

An FDS COVID-19 Response - National Leadership by Innovation Continues 

Co-Founder and CEO of Family Drug Support (FDS), Tony Trimingham OAM, who started the organisation after encountering a lack of services for families following the death of his son Damien 23 years ago has announced a new innovative initiative to assist families:
“In supporting families with alcohol and other drugs issues, FDS has been given the opportunity to gain an incredible depth of understanding and insight into the needs of family members over the past 23 years. In recent times, the impact of COVID-19 has been particularly hard for many families as their access to our support group network, programs and trained staff have been restricted.

pdfRead more: National Leadership by Innovation Continues - 7 Sep 2020.pdf

IFDS Day 2020 - Commonwealth Funding - 24 Feb 2020


24 February 2020

International Family Drug Support Day 2020
Families Welcome Significant Announcement by the Australian Government

In the 20 years Family Drug Support has been supporting families dealing with alcohol and other drugs we have had many ups and downs. 

Today has been an excellent day thanks to the announcement from the Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt, announcing funding to allow FDS to continue our national toll-free telephone support line for families. 

The funding will enable FDS to recruit and train volunteers in all jurisdictions. The national number - 1300 368 186 currently receives over 25,000 calls each year from families dealing with drug and alcohol issues and are answered by our trained and dedicated volunteers.

pdfRead more: IFDS Day 2020 - Commonwealth funding  - 24 Feb 2020.pdf

Amnesty Bin Media Release - 11 Dec 2019


11 December 2019

Family Drug Support Dismay at Premier’s Amnesty Bin Announcement 

 Tony Trimingham, the Founder and CEO of Family Drug Support  (FDS), on behalf of the many thousands of families FDS is in contact with, has expressed his utter dismay and disbelief that once again the NSW Premier and Government have slammed the door on life saving pill testing.  

It is unconscionable that the extensive work and findings of the NSW Deputy Coroner, an independent evaluation of the 2nd successful trial in the ACT and the deaths of so many young people recently at festivals, can be so easily ignored. 

pdfRead more: Amnesty Bin Media Release - 11 Dec 2019.pdf

IFDS Day 2019 - Families Want Pill Testing - 7 Feb 2019


7 February 2019

International Family Drug Support Day 2019
Families Want Pill Testing

If the ‘Just Say No’ education, Zero Tolerance or other hard-line policies had worked, we wouldn’t need to have this debate. The fact is, that after decades of these policies, people continue to take drugs, and some of them die as a result.

Family Drug Support (FDS) has received numerous phone calls from concerned families who have people attending music events and taking drugs - the NSW Premier’s refusal to even countenance pill testing has created fear in many families’ minds, but overall, has strengthened their views that pill testing is essential. 

pdfRead more: IFDS Day 2019 - Families Want Pill Testing - 7 Feb 2019.pdf

Families Support Pill Testing at Music Festivals - 4 Jan 2019

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4 January 2019

Families Support Pill Testing Facilities at Music Festivals 

Another festival death in recent days, 5 in the last 3 months, is proving yet again that the ‘just say no’ message of the past 40 years is not working. Human beings are curious and do risky things, but surely an informed choice is better. Let’s put things in place to reduce harm and save lives. 

The objective of Pill Testing is to reduce harm and save lives, not encourage young people to take drugs. Of course we would rather they didn’t take them to begin with but the reality is that they will, and having their pills checked for dangerous ingredients that may be present will reduce the harm. Being able to talk directly to the person about to use a drug, before the drug is taken, is valuable.

pdfRead more: Families Support Pill Testing at Music Festivals - 4 Jan 2019.pdf

Remembrance Day - 12 July 2018


12th July 2018

International Remembrance Drug Day 2018

‘Just Say No’ Fails Grieving Families 

Next week, family members will be lighting candles and sharing memories of the people who have lost their lives as a result of drug and alcohol use. These memorials will be for International Remembrance Day 2019, a day to acknowledge the lives lost, support those who grieve and stay strong for those who continue to struggle. 

In the light of the current coronial inquest surrounding the premature deaths of five festival goers, it has become clear that families are rallying behind the harm reduction strategy of pill testing at these festivals. It is also evident that some people, who may not have personal experience supporting someone with a substance use problem, are opposed. 

pdfRead more: Remembrance Day Media Release - 12 July 2018.pdf

All Governments Need To Support Pill Testing - 1 May 2018

HRA FDS 24 7
All Governments Need to Support Pill Testing
1st May 2018

Harm Reduction Australia and Family Drug Support are calling on all Governments (Federal, State & Territory) to immediately reconsider their positions on pill testing and support further trials around the country.

In response to recently reported comments by Federal MPs, Warren Entsch and Lisa Singh, Mr Trimingham, CEO & Founder of Family Drug Support said:

Families around the country don’t always understand the risks that some young people take. However, they are aware that some family members attend music festivals and probably realise that part of that experience can involve using drugs. While they clearly prefer that their family members did not use drugs, their main concern is health and safety. From hundreds of discussions with family members, we know that pill testing has their widespread support. People opposed to this life-saving program need to stop and ask themselves one question – if that was your child at a festival about to take a pill would they want them to know more about the risks involved with what they are about to do or not?

Mr Vumbaca, President of Harm Reduction Australia added:

It has been very encouraging to see MPs around the country come out in support of pill testing. What they understand is that pill testing does not encourage or condone drug use. It simply provides a critical service that allows patrons whom have already passed through security and are preparing to take a drug to pause, have it analysed to understand exactly what they have in their hands, talk to experts to learn more about its potential effects and harms, and then consider disposing of the drug safely or understanding where and how to seek assistance should something adverse occur.

Both Mr Trimingham and Mr Vumbaca reiterated that pill testing has been in place for many years in other countries and that politicians of all persuasion needed to understand and be guided by the evidence.

Mr Trimingham added:

As the father of someone that has lost a son to drugs the last thing I would do would be to support a program that in any way would increase the risk of harm.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Tony Trimingham         0412-414-444
Mr Gino Vumbaca              0408-244-552

FDS Celebrates 20 Years Of Supporting Families - 15 Sep 2017

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Over 80 people gathered in the member’s dining room of NSW Parliament house on Friday September 15 to celebrate 20 years since FDS was founded.

Master of ceremonies Gino Vumbaca kept the evening rolling along with entertaining and interesting interviews. Various people who have been important to the development of FDS were acknowledged including former chairs Ann Symonds, Professor Peter Baume and John Della Bosca. Founding, former and present Board members were also acknowledged and thanked, past and present staff and volunteers also mentioned and the presence of many key people in the Alcohol and other Drugs sector.

James from the office had put together a nostalgic reflection on the year 1997 and Sandra compiled a historic collection of media reports from the year that FDS was founded for people to take away. Rev Bill Crews and Tony had an informal chat reflecting on the early days – many people commenting that they should take the show on the road! Tony paid tribute to Sandra who has been with him through the good and bad years, the challenges and the pain. John Della Bosca gave the third Michael Dawson, Evan Thomas and Brian McConnell annual oration on the topic of the 1999 NSW Drug Summit which of course changed things forever. In his summing up at the end of the evening Tony angrily lamented the lack of progress since and challenged people to get active as John Della Bosca had also done in his speech.

The evening was enjoyable, great dinner, good music from Rory also added to the night and the buzz around the room told how much people felt comfortable and were having a good time.

There was pause to remember people who had made great contributions to FDS who are no longer with us. Tony would like to thank the FDS staff for making people feel comfortable and welcome. Organising an event like this takes time, energy and team work and we are particularly proud of the NSW office staff who did far more than we could expect. Thank you to Emma, Sandra, Louise, James, Amy, Jenny and Julie.

Tony could not find support when he was confronted with Damien’s drug use – there is now somewhere for families to turn too. This is our greatest legacy.

FDS 20 Years FDS 20 Years FDS 20 Years

Remembrance Day Ceremonies - Bringing Together Families To Remember Those Who Have Lost Their Lives To Drugs - 22 July 2017

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Ceremony details: 6 pm, 22nd July at Ashfield Uniting Church, 180 Liverpool Road, Ashfield

Has anyone in your family died as a result of alcohol or other drug use? For the past 20 years, Family Drug Support has held ceremonies to remember those who have been lost. These are simple ceremonies which involve music, reading of names and lighting candles.

For details about remembrance ceremonies around the country, please visit:

If you would like a candle lit and a name read and added to our Memorial Wall, please contact FDS Head Office on 02 4782 9222.

These events have brought comfort to many families over the years, as we focus on the people, not the drugs used.

Family Drug Support, a national service providing 24-hour support for families impacted by others drug use, will mark the 20th Annual International Remembrance Day on Saturday the 22nd of July with a ceremony and supper to bring together families of those who have lost family members to accidental overdose, drug-related suicide and other drug related deaths.

The ceremony will be led by Rev Bill Crews, CEO and Founder of the Exodus Foundation charity with a range of guest speeches including some from family members.

The ceremony, one of many taking place around Australia, will enable families to light a candle, reflect and remember those they have lost.

Tony Trimingham expanded, “We want people to know they can use the ceremony as a chance to simply reflect quietly, or they can talk to other families at the informal supper afterwards.”

For requests for an interview and further information please contact:
Tony Trimingham

Research Uncovers Stigma Facing Families With Drug And Alcohol Problems - 23 July 2016

Research launched to mark International Drug Remembrance Days around Australia on Saturday 23rd July 2016

On the eve of the International Drug Remembrance Day, new research has revealed the depth of stigma faced by families dealing with drug and alcohol problems. The research commissioned by Family Drug Support found that half of all people would hide a family member’s drug or alcohol problems from their own friends.

The research found that the sense of shame is highest in the older generations with 57% of over 55’s saying they would hide the issue of a drug or alcohol dependent family member. Additionally, men are also more likely to keep problems secret; 53% would keep quiet compared to 48% of women.

Founder of Family Drug Support, Tony Trimingham commented, “Unfortunately many people feel shame having a drug or alcohol dependent family member and this serves to stop them from seeking the support and assistance they need. My concern is that we are seeing overdose deaths increase each year and people hiding what is happening only increases the risk that families could lose those they care for to drugs. Through our work we aim to destigmatise drug and alcohol problems and reinforce the message that drug-related harms and deaths do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, money or any other factors and most importantly, that support and assistance is available.”

Family Drug Support is the only national service providing 24-hour support for families impacted by others drug use. The organisation will mark the 19th Annual International Remembrance Day on 23rd July with a ceremony and supper to bring together families of those who have lost family members to accidental overdose, drug-related suicide and other drug related deaths.

The Sydney ceremony, one of 5 taking place across four states, will be led by Rev Bill Crews, CEO and Founder of the Exodus Foundation charity with a range of guest speeches including some from family members. The simple but highly symbolic ceremony will enable families to light a candle, reflect and remember those they have lost.

The ceremonies are more important than ever as the latest official figures available reveal that around 1,400 people die annually from drug-related causes (1) and this figure is projected to rise significantly. That equates to almost 4 people a day every day of the year. FDS also estimates that there are over 75,000 drug related ambulance call-outs happening around the country each year (2) where families have to cope with the realisation that they may become yet another tragic statistic in the rising tide of drug and alcohol related deaths affecting our communities.

Tony Trimingham expanded, “We want people to know they can use the ceremony as a chance to simply reflect quietly, or they can talk to other families at the informal supper afterwards. We will also invite families to join a chain-link where they can attach a padlock engraved with details of those they have lost.”

Families wishing to participate in the chain-link may bring their own padlock or these can be arranged by contacting Family Drug Support Head Office on (02) 4782 9222 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 10th July.

6pm, Saturday 23rd July at Ashfield Uniting Church, 
180 Liverpool Road, Ashfield 

Other key findings from the research:

  • 54% of people in metro Sydney would hide a family member’s drug or alcohol problem compared to just 39% of those in rural areas.
  • Higher earners (those earning $150k to $200k) are also more likely to keep such problems to themselves (61%) compared to just 36% of lower earners.

Further details are available on the Family Drug Support website ( or from FDS Head Office on the number above.

For requests for interview and further information:
Holly Clark, Media Liaison for FDS
0452 069 936

About the Family Drug Support Service

  • Established by Tony Trimingham in 1997, Family Drug Support volunteers take around 33,000 calls to their support line every year.
  • The Service provides 24/7 support (Phone: 1300 368186) and support groups in most capital cities and a growing number of regional centres.
  • FDS also offers the Stepping Stones course for families/friends supporting someone with drug and/or alcohol problems.
  • FDS also offers one-on-one bereavement counselling, for those who may require it.

(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2013.

(2) Lloyd B., Matthews S., Gao C. X., Heilbronn C., Beck, D. (2015). Trends in alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances in Victoria: 2013/14. Fitzroy, Victoria: Turning Point – national figure extrapolated from Victorian data.

Family Drug Support Australia

Supporting families and friends of people who use substances as well as bereaved families in Australia.

SUPPORT LINE (24 Hours - 7 Days)
Phone: 1300 368 186

© Family Drug Support Australia / PO Box 7363 Leura NSW 2780 / ABN 49 081 764 258.
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