Trial of Melbourne safe injecting facility set to begin

Amanda Lyons

2/07/2018 12:37:12 PM

The North Richmond facility – which is intended to lower overdose deaths, link people into support services and improve the safety of the surrounding neighbourhood – will soon open its doors for a two-year trial.

Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley toured the safe injecting facility in North Richmond last week. (Image: Tracey Nearmy)
Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley toured the safe injecting facility in North Richmond last week. (Image: Tracey Nearmy)

The safe injecting facility is located within North Richmond Community Health, itself located within the so-called ‘rectangle of death’, identified as an epicentre for heroin-related activity.
Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley toured the facility last week and believes it will help to save lives.
‘I have spoken to so many families who have lost loved ones because the current ways of dealing with drug addiction simply aren’t working,’ he said.
‘This is about reducing the impact of drugs on our community.’
Practitioners at North Richmond Community Health are already 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 and 78 in 2016.
The trial will be reviewed by an independent panel of experts, with a report to be completed by 2020.
It is estimated the safe injecting facility may see up to 300 people throughout a given day, based on the rates of the clinic’s current needle exchange program. The new centre contains different rooms for assessment, injecting, treatment and recovery, and will be staffed with nurses, harm reduction practitioners and a medical supervisor, as well as security guards at all times.
Minister Foley is keen to emphasise that the facility will not only help to prevent overdose at the point of drug use, but can also help users to find more long-term assistance.
‘Our … medically supervised injecting room has referral and support services that will help people overcome their addiction and get their lives back on track,’ he said.
The safe injecting facility trial will include ice as well as heroin, a decision that has been controversial in some quarters. The Victorian Opposition has stated the inclusion of ice is reason enough to scrap the trial entirely should it win government in the upcoming state election.
However, Dr Nico Clark, the Medical Director of the supervised injecting facility, believes including ice in the trial will actually help to improve safety in the community, rather than the reverse.
‘If somebody takes a stimulant like methamphetamine, the environment really makes an impact on how that affects them,’ he told the ABC.
‘If people are calm when they leave [the safe injecting room], the likelihood is they’ll be calm out in the community.’

martin foley Safe injecting facility Victorian Government

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anon   3/07/2018 10:57:28 AM

I have had patiients die of overdoses I think this project will help...