Community Leaders | Empowering Stories For International Overdose Awareness Day | A Discussion with Jaye Murray, the President of QuIVAA

In News by AIVL

Q: Can you introduce yourself by telling me about the work you do at QuIVAA

Hello, I’m Jaye Murray, the President of QuIVAA. Our organisation is dedicated to advocating for and supporting individuals who inject and use drugs in Queensland. My main focus is on harm reduction, human rights, and social justice for individuals who use drugs. I do various things to make a difference, such as speaking up for people who use and inject drugs, particularly when policies or decisions are being made at the local, state, and national levels, but also in everyday interactions. As a peer, I provide helpful insights, knowledge, and experience to help individuals make informed decisions about their health, offer non-judgmental support and connection. My motivation stems from a genuine desire to improve the lives of people who use drugs and to challenge the stigma associated with it. Engaging with the community, building partnerships, and promoting understanding are also important aspects of my role in QuIVAA. I have the privilege of participating in consultations, research, and evaluation activities. This allows myself and QuIVAA to stay informed and make better decisions that have a positive impact on the individuals and community we serve. Everyone at QuIVAA is incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made towards a more compassionate and supportive society in Queensland. We know that the work we do is important, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts to ensure that individuals affected by drug use have the support, resources, and understanding they deserve. QuIVAA is here for anyone who needs us.

Q: Can you describe the overdose related work that is done at (member organisation)?

QuIVAA is involved in many different activities related to Naloxone, we address it through education and awareness and provide information and education to people who use drugs and the broader community about the benefits of Naloxone and how to use it effectively. 

We also work to ensure that Naloxone is readily accessible to those who may need it. We collaborate with healthcare providers, harm reduction services, and other organisations to distribute Naloxone and train individuals on its proper administration. QuIVAA is constantly advocating for the inclusion and expansion of Naloxone programs in policy and practice. We recognise the value of peer support in the context of Naloxone use, including training and peer-led education, to empower individuals to use Naloxone effectively and assist others during opioid overdoses. 

Q: What does International Overdose Awareness Day mean to you?

This question, I found myself reflecting on the significance of this solemn occasion. It is a day that holds both sorrow and hope, a day to remember those we had lost to overdose and to raise our voices in a unified call for change. For me this day emphasizes the importance of harm reduction practices such as Naloxone, safe injection/consumption sites, needle exchange programs, and access to treatment services. I always find myself every year passionately speaking in every way possible about the life-saving effects of Naloxone and understanding the signs of an overdose. Although my heart aches as memories of loved ones flooded my mind. Faces etched with laughter and joy, now forever frozen in time, taken from us too soon. International Overdose Day is not just about the pain of their absence; it is about honouring their lives and ensuring that their stories will not be forgotten. I’ve promised to carry their memories forward, to fight for a future where overdose deaths are reduced and where compassion and understanding replace judgement and stigma.

Q: We often talk about the people we have lost to overdose, and it is incredibly important to honour those people It’s also important to honour our community who are responding to overdose and empowering others to prevent more people being impacted by overdose. Can you tell me about a time where you felt the positive impact of what you do, either because you were involved or you were told about something?

I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of Naloxone training and its positive impact on individuals and communities. Every day, I meet individuals who use substances, and I see the devastating consequences of opioid overdoses. It’s heartbreaking to witness the loss of life and the pain it inflicts on families and friends. But amidst the despair, there is hope. I remember working at the NSP and spoke to a lovely lady who had lost a few mates to overdose and had her own experiences. She attended a Naloxone training session, and it changed her life. I spoke to her after, and I saw a spark of hope ignite in her eyes. She realised that she had the power to save lives, including her own. A few weeks later, she came back in and told me with excitement and gratitude that she had encountered an overdose situation and successfully used the Naloxone nasal spray and knowledge from the training to save her friend’s life. This story and many others are examples of the positive impact of Naloxone training. Through training sessions like these, we can empower individuals to become first responders in their communities. They gain the knowledge and skills needed to save lives in critical moments, bridging the gap between an overdose and emergency medical services. But the impact goes beyond the individual. As more people are trained and equipped with Naloxone, we start to see a shift in community dynamics. People become more aware and compassionate, breaking down the stigma surrounding drug use. Communities become safer, more supportive, and more resilient. I’ve seen the ripple effect of Naloxone training firsthand. As word spreads about its effectiveness, more individuals attend our sessions, eager to learn and make a difference. It’s empowering to witness the transformation in their mindset, from feeling helpless to becoming agents of change. Naloxone training is not just about saving lives; it’s about restoring hope and instilling a sense of purpose. It’s about empowering individuals to take control of their own lives and make a positive impact on those around them. Through Naloxone training, we are creating a network of compassionate and informed individuals who are united in their commitment to reducing harm and saving lives.

Q: If you could say one thing to people who don’t understand this issue, what would you say?

Overdose can happen unexpectedly and to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. It’s important to remember that overdose is not a moral failing or a sign of weakness. It can happen to individuals for various reasons, especially now that more drugs are getting mixed and cut.

Naloxone saves lives and is an essential tool in preventing overdose deaths. It can be administered by anyone, even those without medical training, through intranasal sprays or injections. Naloxone is a temporary solution that buys crucial time until medical help arrives. 

Harm Reduction is key

Understanding overdose and Naloxone requires empathy and compassion. Everyone is deserving of support, understanding, and access to life-saving resources. 

Never forget the people we have lost and the families and friends who are grieving. They are important.