Melbourne: Say no to “safe” injecting rooms
Just days ago, the Victorian government announced that its injecting room in North Richmond will remain open for another three years and is set to create a second facility near the popular Queen Victoria Market. This, all part of an ongoing two-year trial of the medically-supervised facility which began in June 2018.
Rather than funding rehabilitation programs, the government is only fuelling the problem further using your taxpayer’s dollars to finance a public experiment.
Despite government claims that the program has so far been a success through saving lives of drug addicts who would perhaps otherwise overdose in alleyways, it ignores the fact that drugs have become more prevalent near the injecting room, creating a hotspot for drug dealers.
One concerned person told The Age newspaper in June last year: “The injecting centre has concentrated a large part of Melbourne's drug problem into one area. The place is becoming a no-go zone. It feels like the Victorian government has decided that Richmond must bear the entirety of Melbourne’s drug problem. It's great that the injecting centre is saving lives but it is destroying a community.”
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other concerned residents, business owners and public housing tenants had told of how the existing injecting room had made life intolerable, with used needles littering the area "like confetti" and human faeces covering the stairs of the housing commission flats. Others have reported not feeling safe fearing for their children’s safety.
How can this possibly be a success? And when has taking a widespread substance abuse problem and diverting it to one part of a city been a sensible plan?
The current situation is so bad that the Victorian Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt slammed the decision to not only extend the North Richmond trial, but set up a new CBD facility, was “deeply concerning”.
“Our members, who police the immediate precinct around the Richmond North facility, have emphatically told us that it’s directly responsible for a spike in a whole raft of crimes in the area, including theft, burglaries and drug use in vehicles,” Mr Gatt said.
“These concerns, which have repeatedly been echoed by the local community, are validated by crime statistics.”
Legislation will be put before parliament in the coming months in order to push for this second injection room to be built. So we are asking you to pressure your elected MP’s to vote against and campaign against this dangerous and destroying proposal.
CitizenGO recommends that the Victorian government adopt a program similar to Sweden’s which has seen police officers trained to intervene in a caring way, early at the experimentation stage of young people.
Similar programs across the globe involving a combination of law enforcement, health and education strategies are working, with only 5% of the world’s population having used illicit drugs, according to the 2012 World Drug Report (a drop from 6.1% in 2011).
Despite this, Australia continues to see an increase in rates of illicit drug use, because of its 27-year policy of ‘Harm Minimisation’ that neglects effective primary prevention.
Sweden, which abandoned Harm Reduction and drug legalisation in the 1960’s, in favour of a “zero tolerance” policy has seen the country enjoy some of the lowest rates of drug abuse in the world.
Please sign our petition demanding Premier Dan Andrews AXE the proposed opening of a second drug hotspot!
Sign this petition now!
Petition to: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews