Last Updated on August 25, 2021


[TW: this story discusses drug overdose]

International Overdose Awareness Day (31 August) A graphic from International Overdose Awareness Day and the Penington Institute. Heading reads "DID YOU KNOW?" Text underneath reads International Overdose Awareness Day was first observed in Australia in 2001. By 2019, it had grown to 874 events in 39 countries. Time to remember. Time to act." A drawing of a person in an orange jumper stands alongside.

From 5pm on Tuesday 31 August, Melbourne landmarks – including Fed Square, Flinders Street Station and the Bolte Bridge – will be bathed in a purple glow for International Overdose Awareness Day 2021.

This is all part of the world’s largest campaign to end overdose, honour (without stigma) those who have died and acknowledge the grief of loved ones left behind. IOAD spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

At Windana, IOAD has traditionally been a date for remembering people who have passed – where clients are given space to pay respect to those they have known and lost. This year, Windana will also be one of the eleven community organisations joining forces to deliver the World’s Largest Overdose Prevention Training. The webinar is designed for the general community, offering overdose response education and information on how to access Naloxone.

Preventing overdose – through education and encouragement of help-seeking behaviour – is a fundamental goal of our Harm Reduction Practitioner Gyu’s work. Gyu believes that occasions like IOAD are so important in preventing overdose as they help to counter stigma.

“Stigma is a massive barrier that drives the disparity for accessing information, intervention and management” says Gyu.

“Stigma stops access to knowledge and services. That is why in both remembering those who have died and preventing overdose, overcoming stigma is the most crucial step in the intervention process when reaching vulnerable populations.

Accidental overdose can be prevented by education and by being more open about the use of substances, and that’s why stigma is such an important thing to combat.”

Help and information:

24-hour support

PH: 000

PH: 13 11 14

DirectLine (counselling, information and referral service alcohol or drug-related issues)
PH: 1800 888 236

Family Drug Support Australia
PH: 1300 368 186

Star Health
PH: 03 9525 1300 (8:15am-5pm, Mon-Fri)

Useful resources

How to administer naloxone
Australian Government Department of Health page about when Naloxone should be given to a person, who should give it and how it is given. Learn where to go for help and support if you need it.

International Overdose Awareness Day
Homepage of IOAD2021, an initiative of the Penington Institute. Includes a section where people can post tributes for lost loved ones, overdose information and campaign resources.

World’s Largest Overdose Prevention Training 2021
In commemoration of International Overdose Awareness Day 2021, 11 community organisations are joining together to provide training to identify and prevent overdose. Monday 30 August 2021 at 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.

Overdose Prevention and Response
Star Health page with information on recognising and responding to overdose.

Connect & Learn: Naloxone – Saving Lives
A webinar from Turning Point aimed at AOD workers and other people who work with people who use opioids and/or people who may witness an opioid overdose.

IOAD on social media