Media Releases 2011

Yarra Council seeks trial of supervised injecting facility

18 May 2011

Taxi and tram on Victoria Street, RichmondYarra Council is urging the State Government to consider trialling a supervised injecting facility to help reduce rates of public injecting, overdoses and discarded syringes.

Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke said Council had resolved last night to urge the State Government to support a trial and engage in public discussion of the proposal

Cr Clarke said local residents, particularly in Richmond and Abbotsford, often felt unsafe when witnessing drug-related behaviour or coming across discarded syringes in local streets and laneways.

“We are keen to explore whether a supervised injecting facility would make our streets cleaner and safer for all residents, while also putting drug-users in touch with health and other support services,” Cr Clarke said.

“A supervised injecting facility has been operating in Kings Cross, Sydney, for more than a decade, and there is clear evidence it has helped reduce drug-related problems in that neighbourhood,” Cr Clarke said.

“According to an independent evaluation by KPMG, the proportion of Kings Cross residents who had observed people injecting themselves in public over the previous month fell from 55% in 2000 to 27% in 2010.

“The proportion of residents who had come across discarded syringes over the previous month declined from 66% in 2000 to 46% in 2010.”

Cr Clarke said there had been no fatal overdoses in the Kings Cross facility in its ten-year history, and the KPMG evaluation found there was “a high degree of uptake of referrals” for drug treatment.

Cr Clarke said the facility could not be trialled without State Government support as legislative changes would be needed to make it possible.

“We hope the government will open its mind up to the possibility that a supervised injecting facility could reduce drug-related problems in our community,” Cr Clarke said.

She said Council had also resolved last night to seek more details about a police proposal for Council to install closed circuit television cameras along Victoria Street.

Victoria Police and the Richmond Asian Business Association have asked Council to install the cameras to help police address drug-dealing in the street.

She said Council officers would report back to Council in six months on issues including: the results from the first six months of a similar CCTV project in Footscray, an explanation from police about how the CCTV footage would be used, whether traders would be prepared to financially contribute to the project, and the range of other monitoring techniques available.

“We really need more detailed information about the camera proposal before we make a decision about whether we support it, financially or otherwise,” Cr Clarke said.

“We do have some reservations, including that the cameras might just push drug activity into surrounding residential streets.”


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


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