In all jurisdictions, eligibility for EDRS participation is based on regular ecstasy use, that is, use on at least six occasions in the six months prior to interview. Further to this, eligible participants are required to have resided in the same jurisdiction for the past 12 months, with no significant periods of time out of the area. Adhering to these eligibility criteria has proven challenging for the Northern Territory, which has failed to attract a sample of meaningful size in past years.
Darwin being the smallest capital city in Australia. The remote geographical location away from the major drug markets of Sydney and Melbourne. A large proportion of transient young people, ‘backpackers’ and other young tourists, and defence personnel.
Seasonal differences between monsoonal Darwin and other, more temporate capital cities at the time of recruitment (April).
The Northern Territory having the most expensive ecstasy prices in the country.
Notably higher levels of alcohol consumption than the national average.
As a result of these issues, the low number of participants in recent years has made meaningful comparisons over time difficult, both with the national data and previous years’ findings in the Northern Territory. In response this, a number of changes to the Northern Territory recruitment methodology were trialled in 2012, which included: broadening the criteria to include use of other psychostimulants as well as ecstasy in the previous six months; recruiting backpackers and other seasonal workers if they have purchased ecstacy in the Northern Territory; and delaying the commencement of recruitment to the end of April to incorporate the dry season.
While these changes demonstrated the potential to increase the sample size, it is proposed that further revisions are made to the recruitment methodology to increase the Northern Territory’s sample size in 2013.
Elizabeth Whittaker, Joe Van Buskirk, Lucy Burns