The rate of Indigenous overdose deaths in Victoria was three times higher than non-Indigenous fatal overdoses, a new coroners report has found. 

Seventy-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died from an overdose in Victoria between January 2018 and December 2021, the state’s first collection of such data showed.

That accounts for a rate of 24.1 fatal overdoses per 100,000 people each year, while the rate for non-Indigenous Victorians was 7.8 per 100,000 people.

Most Indigenous Victorians who died due to an overdose were in Melbourne, although the proportion of regional deaths was higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to non-Indigenous people (42.1 per cent to 24.3 per cent).

More than 80 per cent of Indigenous fatal overdoses were unintentional. 

The data provides “valuable insights” to government and the health sector on where resources are needed, State Coroner Judge John Cain said. 

“Drug related harms are complex and constantly changing,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“Such issues cannot be countered without up-to-date information about drug prevalence and use in the community.”

The report was developed by the Koori-led Coroners Aboriginal Engagement Unit and the Coroners Prevention Unit. 

The engagement unit’s manager said the new report was “challenging but significant”.

“It puts information into the hands Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and reinforces the importance of placing culturally safe practices at the heart of health and wellbeing resources for our communities,” Troy Williamson said.

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