Richmond safe injecting room trial approved by Victorian Government

Amanda Lyons

31/10/2017 12:00:00 AM

The Victorian Government’s decision to approve a two-year trial of a medically supervised injecting room in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Richmond – the city’s acknowledged heroin capital – has been hailed as a life-saving measure.

Victoria will trial its first medically supervised injecting room in Richmond
Victoria will trial its first medically supervised injecting room in Richmond

‘The evidence is overwhelming: medically supervised injecting centres work,’ Chair of RACGP Victoria Dr Cameron Loy said. ‘Allowing heroin users to inject in a safe, clean environment under medical supervision will save lives.
‘The Victorian Government should be commended for approving this trial.’
The new service will be run from North Richmond Community Health, where practitioners work on the frontline of care for many heroin-affected patients. The clinic, which distributes more than 70,000 needles per month to injecting drug users in the area, tended to 56 overdoses in 2015, 78 in 2016, and likely more this year.
‘Sometimes we have to pull people out from between carparks and bring them into an area where we can resuscitate them; two women carrying this big weight because we can’t resuscitate the big guy in the position he is in,’ Dr Ines Rio, a GP at North Richmond Community Health, told newsGP. ‘It’s all very well and good to say safety first, but if you rely on safety first the guy would be dead.
‘A supervised injecting facility is a necessary part of the care that is needed.’
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, whose government has long rejected the idea of a medically supervised injecting room, now believes such a service is necessary as heroin-overdose deaths continue in the area.
‘There can be no rehabilitation if you are dead,’ he said. ‘If you are lying in a laneway in a gutter with a syringe that you got through the needle and syringe exchange program just here, there can be no pathway to treatment for you.
‘If, however, you can be supervised, if you can get, in the event you need, the urgent health care that saves lives … that surely, on any measure, is a better outcome than seeing that death toll go up and up.’

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