Move the Injecting Room
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The location of the injecting room at North Richmond Community Health Centre is right next to a school and in the middle of a high density residential area in a suburb of Melbourne. An optimal location would be in a commercial area, close to major public transport, as per almost all other successful injecting facilities in the world. This would encourage user uptake, which to date has been mixed. Possibly because it is too far from where many users score their drugs. Moving it to a more advantageous location would reduce exposure to the rest of the community, especially the thousands of children in the immediate vicinity. It would make it easier for police to monitor and discourage drug dealers.
This “community “ centre is FOR the community with a maternal/child health section, denture clinic, and many other community services like the healthy aging hub and migrant and refugee assistance. There are a myriad of diverse services like cooking groups for older people, and vaccinations for babies. These are at threat of being compromised by the addition of the injecting facility, which makes it untenable for some existing participants. How many parents would want to take their child to get immunised at a place where there are groups of drug users loitering under the influence of ice and heroin?
Drug users deserve the privacy and purpose that would be afforded them in a stand alone facility designed for their needs. There is no reason why it needs to be located at NRCH. There have been no studies produced to say what sites were considered or what analysis was done. Where is the evidence to support the choice of location? In contrast there is a plethora of evidence that the Sydney model has been successful over many years and should be followed.
We support enhancing the safety of those suffering addiction, but it should not be at the expense of the other members of the community. In particular, those closest to the facility including primary school children, and public housing residents, are likely to be negatively impacted, and possibly endangered, by having hundreds of drug users repeatedly coming there from all over Melbourne. Since the injection room has opened there have been a number of incidents that generate concern, especially in relation to ice users.
It is time for the government to reconsider where the best location for the facility might be, and include residents in the process, so that society benefits from its introduction, and users are supported, rather than all parties being let down by a seriously compromised and ill advised location.
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