The Victorian Greens will move to make it easier to establish more medically supervised injecting rooms where they are needed in Victoria, when Parliament returns this week.
A government bill set to make the current North Richmond facility permanent will likely be debated and voted on in the Upper House next week.
The Greens hope to improve this bill by introducing an amendment that would allow for more than one medically supervised injecting room to be licenced at the same time.
This means that if future facilities were to be announced there would be no need for new legislation to grant the licence or prescribe the location.
Victorian Greens’ drug harm reduction spokesperson, Aiv Puglielli, said if the Victorian Labor Government was serious about keeping communities safer, it needed to follow the expert health advice.
He said this meant establishing several more facilities in areas across the state where drug use was affecting communities, to take the pressure off North Richmond and to prevent people using the safe injecting facilities from needing to travel into the inner city to access the safe facilities they need.
By passing the Greens’ proposed reforms, the Government would be able to more easily establish smaller medically supervised injecting facilities in areas across the state, to save lives in places which are currently experiencing drug related harm.
The Greens will also be introducing amendments to the bill to expand who is currently eligible to use the North Richmond facility, in line with recommendations made in John Ryan’s review released earlier this year.
This includes granting access to medical care to pregnant people, people under the age of 18, and people subject to a court order – other than an order or condition that has the effect of prohibiting the person from attending the facility or accessing services at the facility.
This would ensure the most vulnerable in society are not prevented from accessing life-saving treatment in the event of an overdose.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens’ drug harm reduction spokesperson, Aiv Puglielli MLC:
“If we’re serious about keeping our communities safer we need to follow expert health advice.
“If the experts are calling for more safe injecting facilities in areas across the state where drug use is affecting communities and where people are dying, then the Government should support them, not back away from expert health advice.
“But any facility needs to come with wrap-around services and support for local communities to ensure these facilities are successful in reducing harm and saving lives.
“The Greens’ amendments would help make it easier to establish these facilities in areas where people need them, and make them more accessible.
“People are using injectable drugs. Leaving people out in the open, without medical supervision, to use these substances will lead to more deaths and will put people and communities in harm’s way.”
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens Member for Richmond, Gabrielle de Vietri MP:
“The North Richmond facility saves lives, and helps provide pathways to health and recovery.
“North Richmond Community Health has done an incredible job helping people who use drugs access things like opioid replacement therapies, legal services, housing, and employment.
“But there have been serious deficiencies in the way the government has implemented their plan, by not adequately supporting outreach, addressing amenity, supporting the community or addressing the intersecting issues of housing and mental health.
“It’s good to see the government is moving to make this facility permanent, but they must properly engage the community and stakeholders in planning the future of this site and invest in the North Richmond community.”