The Victorian Greens say much more should be done to reduce outdoor drug dealing and injecting in North Richmond, and have opposed calls for the immediate closure or relocation of the safe injecting room there.
Greens’ Health spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, said the Government should do more to reduce demand on the North Richmond site, by finding out where users were coming from and opening one or more sites in other areas of need such as St Kilda, in Minister Foley’s electorate.
The Government can also assist more people to get treatment with heroin substitutes such as methadone.
Dr Read said moving the room would be unlikely to move the heroin problem which predated the safe injecting room in that area.
He urged the Government to listen to the local community and find ways to move those who inject outdoors, to do so inside the safe injecting room.
Some of those injecting outside the centre are likely to be excluded by the safe injecting room’s rules, which should be reviewed to allow more to move inside.
Quotes attributable to Dr Tim Read, Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Health:
“The Government is right – the trial of the safe injecting room should continue. But they must also look at how to adequately tackle the heroin problem that plagued the area before it opened.
“We need to improve access to methadone, and similar treatments. It is often hard to find a doctor who will prescribe it, and many patients fall off the wagon because they have to pay a daily pharmacy fee.
“It seems many people using the safe injecting room are not local to Richmond but from other places. Let’s find out where they’re coming from – and think about opening other sites where they’re needed.
“Also, people under 18, people needing friends to help inject, pregnant women, and some on court orders, are banned from using the safe injecting room. Everyone should be eligible for resuscitation and therefore allowed to inject inside the centre, rather than on the street.
“The real danger of closing or moving the safe injecting room is that the heroin problem that preceded it will remain and the deaths will increase. We need more safe injecting rooms, not fewer.”