Decision on second injecting room ‘will lead to more drug-related harm’


April 24, 2024

We, at Uniting Vic.Tas, the community services organisation of the Uniting Church of Victoria and Tasmania, are extremely disappointed by Victorian Government’s decision not to proceed with the trial of a second medically supervised injecting service in the Melbourne CBD.

Medically supervised injecting rooms are a vital and life-saving harm reduction response.

The first medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond achieved its objectives of reducing drug-related harms, improving access to treatment, wraparound health-related support and offering live-saving interventions and preventing 63 fatal overdoses since 2018.

The need for a second one in Melbourne is clear. Data from the Victorian Coroner’s Court showed that Melbourne CBD had the highest number of public fatal heroin overdoses of any local government area.

We should be moving towards, not away, from a Public Health Model for understanding and responding to drug use. This means that the fundamental objective of drug policy should be to reduce the harm of drug use, keep people safe and provide pathways to wellness.

At a time when the sector is calling for public drug-testing facilities, decriminalising small amounts of drugs and more safe injecting sites, this announcement feels like a step back.

People who use drugs are part of our community. They need to be safe. It is important that we fight back against outdated, harmful stereotypes and meet international standards by supporting people through health-based responses that are proven to work.

The decision not to go ahead with a second medically supervised injecting room in the Melbourne CBD will only lead to more drug overdoses and more drug-related deaths and this is why we strongly encourage the Government to re-consider this decision.

While we congratulate the governments decision to support a hydromorphone trial and increase services in the CBD, increase access to Naloxone and pharmacotherapy places, these alone will not provide gateways to treatment for some of society’s most vulnerable and stigmatised substance users and wont address all the factors contributing to overdose related deaths in the Melbourne CBD.

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