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ANMF welcomes start of medically supervised injecting room trial

The ANMF (Vic Branch) has welcomed the beginning of a two-year trial of a medically supervised injecting room at North Richmond Community Health.

We also welcome news reports quoting the injecting room’s director, Dr Nico Clarke, as saying the supervised injecting room has already prevented overdoses, received 400 visits and referrals have been made to health and social services since opening on 30 June 2018.

ANMF (Vic Branch) supports the harm minimisation principle that underpins this practical and compassionate health-based approach to substance use and addiction. In 2016, 190 Victorians died from heroin overdoses, the highest number in 20 years. Overdose deaths where ice was a contributing drug increased by 60 per cent between 2015 and 2016 [1].

The City of Yarra where North Richmond Community Health is located, is the local government area with the highest frequency of heroin overdose deaths in Victoria and the highest frequency of heroin-related ambulance attendances.

With the Victorian Trades Hall Council, ANMF (Vic Branch) put forward a submission supporting the introduction of a supervised injecting room to the 2017 Victorian parliamentary inquiry into medically supervised injecting facilities.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the trial was already providing opportunities for potentially life changing conversations between health professionals and people who are addicted to heroin and other drugs.

‘We are heartened that the Andrews Government made a bold decision to trial a health-first approach to drug addiction. The 190 Victorians who died of heroin overdoses in 2016 are sons and daughters, partners, friends, mothers and fathers.

‘Sydney’s safe injecting room experience and the early days of Melbourne’s trial indicate that this medically supervised injecting room will save lives, potentially change lives and enable paramedics to attend other medical emergencies.’

Sydney’s Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross – the only other medically supervised injecting centre in Australia – opened in May 2001. Independent evaluations have found the centre’s benefits include saving lives, reducing injecting drug use, reducing ambulance call-outs, and referrals of drug users to health and social support services.