Another Supervised Injection Site Is Coming To Australia

By Victoria Kim 11/03/17

The supervised injection facility is approved for a two-year trial, and is slated to open in the next six months.

the injection room at Insite in Vancouver
the injection room at Insite in Vancouver Photo via YouTube

The city of Melbourne will open its own supervised injection site, in response to a growing heroin problem in the region that’s showing no signs of letting up.

The North Richmond neighborhood of the city, also known as “Melbourne’s heroin epicenter,” saw 34 heroin deaths in a four-block radius in a one-year period, according to Australia’s ABC News. This is out of 109 total heroin deaths tallied across Victoria state in 2016.

Stats like these, and the reported success of Australia’s first supervised injection facility (SIF) at Kings Cross in Sydney, has pushed Premier Daniel Andrews of the state of Victoria to change his mind about SIFs. 

There can be no rehabilitation if you are dead,” said Andrews. “If, however, you can be supervised, if you can get the urgent health care that saves lives, that surely is a better outcome than seeing that death toll go up and up.”

Australia’s second SIF will operate out of the North Richmond Community Health Centre, which has run a needle exchange and methadone program for two decades, according to the Guardian. The center estimates that it dispenses up to 88,000 clean syringes to drug users every month.

“There is an alternative, one that can save lives, one that can help clean up this local community,” said Premier Andrews.

Government officials have had their eye on North Richmond as the next SIF site for some time now. Melbourne locals illustrated the need for its own SIF to ABC News, like cafe owner Danny Nguyen, who says he’d rather that drug users have a place to go and use drugs rather than using public spaces. 

“At my shop there’s a lot [of syringes] in the carpark. Sometimes I need to call the council to come and pick them up,” Nguyen told ABC News. “I think it’s a good idea to have a room, and people if they want to use drugs, they can just go there.”

The SIF is approved for a two-year trial, and is slated to open in the next six months. The space will be available seven days a week, for at least 12 hours a day, ABC News reports.

Even the principal of Richmond West Primary School, which is next door to the health center, agrees that providing a designated space to use drugs is better than the alternative. “We anticipate this facility will significantly reduce the visibility of drug use in our local area,” said Principal Paul Ledwidge.

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