Media Releases 2011

Heroin use continues to be an issue in Yarra

31 August 2011

Yarra street at night New figures showing ambulances are attending more than 250 heroin overdoses in Yarra each year support the need for a trial supervised injecting facility, Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke said.

Ambulances attended 253 heroin overdoses in Yarra in 2009/2010 and 269 in 2008/2009, according to a State Government-funded report by Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre and Ambulance Victoria.

The report found Yarra had the highest number of heroin overdoses attended by an ambulance in the metropolitan Melbourne region. More than 20% of heroin overdoses attended by ambulances across Melbourne in the two-year period had occurred in Yarra.

Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke said the report showed that the number of all heroin-related incidents attended by ambulances in Melbourne was way below the levels reached in the late 1990s. However, heroin-related ambulance attendances had steadily increased over the past four years.

She said the figures supported Council’s call for a multi-faceted response to drug-use, which would involve the State Government agreeing to trial a supervised injecting facility.

“Many of the overdoses included in these figures would have involved a drug-user injecting themselves in public and subsequently overdosing in public,” Cr Clarke said.

“These figures highlight how exposed our residents are to drug-use and its aftermath,” she said.

“To us, it makes sense to trial a supervised injecting facility where the drug use would be contained and drug-users would have access to both early intervention medical treatment and rehabilitation programs.”

Cr Clarke said Council had recently contributed $8000 towards a research study that would gather evidence about the impact of drug use on public amenity and about the number, type and frequency of drug overdoses in Yarra.

She said Council would also be making a submission - which would call for the trial of a supervised injecting facility - to an independent advisory group helping to develop a new State Government Victorian Alcohol and Drug Strategy. She encouraged residents and other interested community members to also make a submission by Wednesday 21 September.

Here is more information on Council's call for a trial of a supervised injecting facility.

For media enquiries about this issue, please contact:
Ainslie Gowan
Coordinator - Communications
9205 5177 / 0400 933 700   




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