Richmond safe-injecting room ‘saving lives’

Paul Hayes

13/06/2019 2:46:53 PM

Politician Fiona Patten said the controversial Melbourne facility has managed more than 1100 overdoses since opening in mid-2018.

Fiona Patten
Reason Party MLC Fiona Patten helped pave the way for the Richmond safe-injecting room.

Reason Party MLC Fiona Patten, the politician who helped pave the way for the Richmond safe-injecting room, believes the numbers are evidence ‘the centre is working, saving lives and getting people into much-needed treatment and recovery’.
New data on the medically supervised injecting centre, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of North Richmond, shows:

  • the centre has managed more than 1130 overdoses – an average of three a day – between July 2018 and June 2019
  • staff carried out more than 3300 health and social support interventions in the injecting centre’s first nine months
  • more than 250 people have started opioid-replacement treatment or have been referred to other forms or drug and alcohol treatment, while 40 have entered treatment for hepatitis.
‘What we know is ambulance callouts dropped in the first six months of the centre opening and it has saved people from overdosing on over 1000 occasions, while connecting drug users to other drug services, including hepatitis C treatment and mental health counselling,’ Ms Patten said.
‘But we will keep working with drug users and continue to listen to the community on this issue.’
The facility’s local community has been vocal in voicing concerns with the injecting room, with many complaining that issues of public drug use, drug trafficking and antisocial behaviour have plagued the centre since it opened in July 2018.
Local residents have arranged community meetings to air grievances and try to change the situation. A recent meeting attracted a standing-room-only crowd of around 150 residents and was focused on presenting possible solutions to what many attendees said is a growing problem.
Yarra City councillor Stephen Jolly has been the driving force behind the meetings. He said many in the community are ‘pulling their hair out’ due to the social issues.
Cr Jolly previously told newsGP he believes initiatives such as Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program need to be enacted soon, otherwise community sentiment towards the safe-injecting room will further erode.
‘There’s an increasing minority that want it to be moved, and there’s an increasing minority that want it closed down, out of desperation,’ he said.
‘If we don’t come along with extra programs to fix the problems, if we just leave it at the injecting facility, it will mentally demoralise people.
‘We have to have further measures to … try and get these drug users off the street, and to also get these people into programs that are going to help them break the addiction cycle.’

drug addiction injecting room overdose

newsGP weekly poll What areas of healthcare were you hoping would get more funding in this year's Federal Budget?

newsGP weekly poll What areas of healthcare were you hoping would get more funding in this year's Federal Budget?



Login to comment

Jenny   19/06/2019 10:25:22 PM

It is debatable whether the Centre is saving lives. What is not debatable is that locating its entrance 20 metres from a primary school entrance, adjacent to a maternal health centre, close to a childcare centre, and in the middle of a public housing estate is detrimental to vulnerable people, our children and the community. Continue the trial in a better location if you must.

Mabel   8/07/2019 3:57:36 PM

According to the Melbourne Coroner, there has been no reduction in deaths as a result of heroin overdose during the period the injecting room has been operating so the statistics quoted in this article have been cherry picked to put a positive spin on another Melbourne nightmare.

John   25/07/2019 9:15:31 PM

I’ve been using ever since I was 14 years old. Growing up in a family where my father beat my mother, and my older brother (6 years older) would inject heroin secretly in his room, it’s no wonder drugs are prevalent in society today. People don’t choose to take drugs, they don't choose to become addicted, it happens and it can happen to the best of us. It isn’t as easy as saying “don’t do drugs” until you’ve ever tried to stop the urge of feeling the numb sensation. Rehab helps for some time, but eventually it comes back to bite you in the ass. My wife and children don’t know my drug habits. Before these rooms, I would hide a hide a syringe underneath the glovebox. It’s not fun having to hide such an addiction from those you love, and these rooms can enable me to survive and be there tomorrow. Banning drugs doesn’t stop drug use, it makes it unsafe. To those who say it’s promoting drug use, it’s not. It’s helping those who can’t fight their addiction survive long enough to overcome it.