On 11 October 2019, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced the Australian Government was stepping up its commitment to the Pacific by launching the kava pilot program. The pilot involves the relaxation of kava-related prohibited import regulations to allow Australians more access to kava and its benefits. The pilot also supports broader efforts under the Pacific Step-up strategy to increase stronger cultural and economic ties between Australia and Pacific Island nations.
To determine the impact of the kava pilot program, a monitoring and evaluation program was conducted between April 2021 to August 2023 by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and Ninti One (Ninti), in collaboration with other partners and overseen by a Project Advisory Group.
Recognising the cultural and economic significance of kava for Pacific Island nations, the Australian Government lifted importation restrictions and launched a kava pilot program over two phases:
1. December 2019 – increase in individual passenger limit of kava from 2kg to 4kg
2. December 2021 – allow commercial importation of kava for use as a food.
The kava pilot program aims to: provide greater access to kava in Australia without compromising public health and safety; understand the social, cultural, economic and health effects of increased availability; ensure respectful integration of commercial importation with State and Territory regulations; and increase trade opportunities for Australia and Pacific Island countries.
To determine the impact of the pilot program, a monitoring and evaluation program was conducted between April 2021 to August 2023 by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and Ninti One (Ninti), in collaboration with other partners and overseen by a Project Advisory Group. A mixed methods approach using both quantitative and qualitative data was used for the evaluation. This was complemented by a systematic review to understand existing evidence on kava.
The evaluation concluded that there was broad support for the pilot program, however ongoing monitoring, especially among groups at increased risk of harm, will be critical.
This report is available on the Office of Drug Control (ODC) website at the following location: Monitoring and Evaluation of the Kava Pilot Program | Office of Drug Control (ODC)