Vic. expands drug trial
The Victorian Government is changing the rules for its supervised safe injecting room.
The centre in the suburb of North Richmond will now stay open longer to address unmet demand once a new facility opens in the middle of the year.
The state government has declared the two-year trial a success, but some residents still have concerns about unintended consequences.
City of Yarra Councillor Stephen Jolly said there has been an increase in the amount of people using drugs on the street.
“Not everyone who uses drugs is using the centre for a whole number of reasons,” he said.
“I think people support the safe injecting centre but they want more drug reform to deal with the extra impacts of the drug industry that no-one expected.”
Liberal MP Tim Smith said the centre is attracting drug dealers.
“Residents have been saying for months now that this injecting centre was going to be like a honey pot and that hardened drug users from around Melbourne, and indeed drug dealers, were going to congregate in that local area and that is exactly what is happening,” he said.
State Housing Minister Richard Wynne said security, lighting and other issues will be addressed.
“We know this facility saves lives but we also know there have been some unintended consequences of that, particularly as it relates to demand for the facility, but also the need for more intensive needle and syringe pickup programs,” he said.
A new and much larger facility will open in the middle of the year, and the state says it is doubling the number of outreach workers at the same time.
“We've listened to the local community,” health minister Martin Foley said.
“We're serious about saving lives but we're equally serious about improving the amenity of the North Richmond community.”
The safe injecting scheme costs about $4 million per year.