Wed. May 29th, 2024

A second safe injecting room for Melbourne has been rejected. Here’s how we got here

Jamie Roberts By Jamie Roberts May28,2024
Key Points
  • A second safe injecting room for Melbourne has been rejected by the state government.
  • A report had recommended an injecting facility with four to six booths in the CBD.
  • In 2022, 549 Victorians died from drug overdoses and more than one in 10 fatal heroin overdoses occurred in Melbourne.
The Victorian government has rejected a second safe injecting room in Melbourne despite a report pushing for the facility and about six years after the first centre opened in North Richmond.
Premier Jacinta Allan and Mental Health Minister Ingrid Stitt ruled out another centre and instead announced increased medical support for drug users.
They said $95 million would be spent on health strategies including $36.4 million to establish a new community health service on Flinders Street in the city and $21.3 million to increase community outreach teams.

The move comes a report from former Victoria Police commissioner Ken Lay that recommended an injecting facility with four to six booths in the CBD, citing the death of one drug injector a month in the city.

A bench with blue plastic trays containing medical supplies on it.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan acknowledged the government at first backed a second injecting centre in the CBD but she said a location that met the needs of those with drug dependencies and the broader community could not be found. Source: AAP / Tracey Nearmy

So how did we get here? Here’s a timeline of events leading to the rejection.

In June 2018, Melbourne’s first medically supervised injecting room opened under an 18-month trial at North Richmond Community Health. Then-centre director Nico Clark said the facility received “overwhelmingly” positive feedback from the 400 users in its first week.
Then, in February of 2019, then-MP Fiona Patten said the facility’s limited operating hours have led to clientele using drugs in the streets, frustrating locals. A new, expanded centre at North Richmond opened its doors more than a year into the trial.

In December, the injecting centre was separated from a needle exchange and outreach service after two health workers were accused of drug trafficking.

In June, then-premier Daniel Andrews announced a second safe injecting room would be opened near Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market.
In July, the City of Melbourne voted against the state government’s push to put another supervised injecting room near the market. Then, in May of 2021, reports emerged Flinders Street could be the site of Melbourne’s second safe injecting room.

On 26 May 2021, Melbourne Council voted in support of a safe injecting room in the CBD.

In March, the state government announced North Richmond safe injecting would become permanent. The bill to make the facility permanent passed the upper house following more than seven hours of debate.

In May, Lay delivered his final report on a possible trial in the city. A Salvation Army hub on Bourke Street was considered as a home to a second supervised injecting room.

In February, the Victorian government relied on executive privilege to reject a two-week deadline made by the upper house to release Lay’s report. Premier Jacinta Allan and Health Minister Ingrid Stitt announced Melbourne will not get a second supervised drug injecting room despite Lay’s report pushing for the facility.
The government received the report in May 2023 and it was made public on Tuesday.
Lay said there was widespread acknowledgement the city had a significant injecting drug problem but there were “mixed views” on what the policy and community response should be.
Some 52 per cent of respondents surveyed for the report said there was no need for a supervised injecting service in the city, while 40 per cent said there was such a need.

Allan acknowledged the government at first backed a second injecting centre in the CBD but she said a location that met the needs of those with drug dependencies and the broader community could not be found.

Jamie Roberts

By Jamie Roberts

Jamie is an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on uncovering corruption and advocating for social justice. With over a decade of experience in the field, Jamie's work has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in various communities.

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2 thoughts on “A second safe injecting room for Melbourne has been rejected. Here’s how we got here”
  1. It’s disappointing that the state government has rejected the proposal for a second safe injecting room in Melbourne. With the rising number of drug overdoses, it’s crucial to provide more support for drug users in the city. Hopefully, alternative solutions will be considered to address this pressing issue.

  2. It’s disappointing that the government has rejected a second safe injecting room in Melbourne. With the alarming number of deaths from drug overdoses, it’s crucial to provide necessary support and facilities for drug users in need. The decision to focus on medical support is commendable, but a comprehensive approach is needed to address the ongoing crisis.

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