Early Warning System

The Mental Health Commission is leading the development of the Early Warning System (EWS) to respond to new and emerging drugs of concern in Western Australia. This includes detection of previously unidentified psychoactive substances, highly toxic substances and the associated harms through use.

The introduction of an EWS in Western Australia was a recommendation in the Select Committee into Alternate Approaches to Reducing Illicit Drug Use and its Effects on the Community Report, ‘Help not Handcuffs’ report. 

Why have an EWS?

An EWS will facilitate timely, informed and coordinated responses to reported drug anomalies and/or clusters of illicit drug seizures, toxicity, overdose and death incidents. It will have capacity to validate information across agencies and provide information, analysis and warnings between health and frontline services including, emergency departments, St John Ambulance WA and the Western Australia Police Force. For matters identified as a potential public health concern, the EWS will disseminate information alerts and harm reduction information on a case by case basis.

The EWS has been implemented as a function of the Western Australian Overdose Strategy Group.

Who oversees the EWS?

The EWS Working Group (EWSWG) was established in 2019 to oversee the development and implementation of the EWS.

The Mental Health Commission is the co-ordinating agency for the EWSWG with membership comprised of:

  • Mental Health Commission
  • Peer Based Harm Reduction WA
  • National Drug Research Institute
  • St John Ambulance WA
  • Western Australian Police Force
  • Royal Perth Hospital
  • ChemCentre
  • Western Australian Department of Health.

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Last updated 3 February 2023

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