|Friday 5 June 2020|
Fiona Patten MP Welcomes Second Safe Injecting Facility in Melbourne CBD
North Richmond MSIR trial extended for three years
Member for Northern Metropolitan and Leader of the Reason Party, Fiona Patten, has welcomed the announcement by the Victorian Government that it has accepted all recommendations of the independent review of Victoria’s first Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR), including extending the trial in North Richmond and opening a second facility in the City of Melbourne.
The Department of Health and Human Services has recommended a site for the second service at CoHealth Central Melbourne on Victoria Street. The report, chaired by Professor Margaret Hamilton, found the MSIR in North Richmond is doing vital work with 119,000 visits since it opened its doors. It identified that the centre has safely managed 3,200 overdoses and saved at minimum 21 lives since opening. Staff have also provided more than 13,000 health and social support referrals for issues like mental health, housing and family violence.
“For those of us who have been heavily involved with the establishment and operation of the Medically Supervised injecting Centre in North Richmond, these positive statistics come as no surprise,” said Ms Patten.
“We know this facility has been saving people’s lives and I am glad that it will now be extended for another three years.”
The report shows that MSIC has taken pressure off emergency departments, reduced ambulance call outs, and lead to a decrease in public drug use around the area. It also found that North Richmond is the busiest supervised injecting room in the nation with 4,350 people registering since it opened.
Opening a new facility in the Melbourne CBD would help reduce the pressure on the existing centre Ms Patten noted.
“North Richmond has been a huge success,” she said. “No one can be in any doubt now that we need more of these facilities. I have long suggested that a medically supervised injecting centre is needed in areas such as St Kilda and Footscray for instance.
“We just need look at the injecting centre in Vancouver, the first of its kind to open in North America. That facility, co-managed by a community services organisation and Vancouver Health, is a place where users can connect their addiction to health care and other community services. It’s a supervised harm reduction service for injection drug users that has been instrumental in tackling this problem since 2003 – and saved thousands of people.”
Ms Patten said legislation will also need to pass the parliament to establish the second site.
“I will be supportive of any legislation that the government brings forward to establish a second safe injecting facility, but I will be looking to see if we can allow for flexibility for further trials so as we don’t have to keep returning to Parliament on this issue each time,” she said.
Ms Patten also welcomed $9 million in investment to improve the area around the North Richmond facility.
“Upgrades and landscape works have been needed there for some years,” said Ms Patten.
“I am also glad to see that of that $3 million will be used for work suggested by residents.”