Let’s Start Saving Lives

Page 8, Herald Sun, Feb 9, 2017

We, the undersigned, support a trial of a Medically Supervised Injection Centre in Victoria.

WE ARE SURE this will save lives– let’s remember: while there’s life,there’s hope.

We call upon the Members of the Victorian Parliament to support a rigorously evaluated trial in Richmond, the epicentre of Melbourne’s crisis with heroin,other opioids, and other street drugs including methamphetamine.

There have not been any deaths from a drug overdose in any of the 90 Medically Supervised Injection Centres operating in the world. The first opened in 1986.

There were 172 heroin related overdose deaths in Victoria in 2016.Of these, 19 people died in North Richmond and a further 15 died after apparently obtaining heroin in the City of Yarra. Despite the best efforts of current services, people are still dying preventable deaths.

Each of those drug overdose deaths was preventable. North Richmond needle exchange distributes 70,000 syringes each month. If those people had instead injected drugs in a supervised facility, possibly none would have died from a drug overdose.

A Medically Supervised Injection Centre was opened in Kings Cross, Sydney in 2001. After one million injections, there have been 6,500 drug overdoses but no one has died.

Trialling a facility would help some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable. It would introduce them to health and social services, including drug treatment, and will help some get their lives back on track.

Today people inject drugs on streets, in car parks, doorways, lanes and toilets. Many are homeless, have severe physical and mental health severe physical and mental health problems, are very isolated, while some are suicidal and estranged from their families.

Providing a Medically Supervised Injection Centre also helps residents and businesses in some of our more troubled neighbourhoods by improving amenity. It will also reduce pressure on police, ambulance services and emergency departments in hospitals.

Leading health and medical organisations, Yarra Council and most residents in the proposed trial area support a trial. According to the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey, a majority of Australians also favour this type of facility.

The Parliament of Victoria should not delay.

Laurence Alvis – CEO, UnitingCare Regen

Dr Lorraine Baker – President, Australian Medical Association Victoria

Sam Biondo – CEO, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association

Andrew Bruun – CEO, Youth Support and Advocacy Service

Scientia Professor David Cooper

AO FAA, Director, Kirby Institute,

Faculty of Medicine, UNSW

Major Michael Coleman – State Social Commander, The Salvation Army State Social Command (Victoria)

Levinia Crooks – CEO, Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine

Greg Denham – EO, Yarra Drug and Health Forum

Phil Dunn QC

Professor Michael Farrell – Director, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

Bernie Geary AO

Dr Stefan Gruenert – CEO, Odyssey House, Victoria

Professor Margaret Hamilton AO

Dr Nicole Highet – Centre of Perinatal Excellence

Luke Hilakari – Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council

Dr Jennie Hutton – Emergency Physician, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne

Dr Marianne Jauncey – Medical Director, Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, Sydney

Dr Simon Judkins – Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine, Austin Health

Anne Maree Kaser – CEO, Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery Inc

Demos Krouskos – CEO, North Richmond Community Health Centre

Judy Leitch – Retired, former CEO of Wesley Mission Melbourne

Professor Simon Lenton – Director, National Drug Research Institute

Dr Cameron Loy – Chair, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Victoria

Professor Dan Lubman – Director, Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies, Monash University

Paul MacDonald – CEO, Anglicare

Professor Lisa Maher AM – Program Head, Viral Hepatitis Epidemiology and Prevention Program, The Kirby Institute

Peter Marshall – Branch Secretary, United Firefighters Union Victorian Branch

Dr Mike McDonough – Head of Unit, Addiction Medicine,Western Health

Steve McGhie – Secretary, Ambulance Employees Australia-Victoria

Michael Moore – World Federation of Public Health Associations

Dr David Morawetz, – Psychologist, Economist, Founder and Director, Social Justice Fund

Lyn Morgain – CEO, cohealth

Robert Richter QC – President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Victoria

Professor Alison Ritter – Director, Drug Policy Modelling Program

Professor Ann Roche – Director, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction

John Rogerson – CEO, Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Brian Rolfe – Retired Barrister and Solicitor

Simon Ruth – CEO, Victorian Aids Council

Judy Ryan – Victoria Street Drug Solutions, Abbotsford

Darren Smyth – President, Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia

David Stanley – Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation

Amanda Stone – Mayor, City of Yarra

David Templeman – President, Public Health Association of Australia

Professor Carla Treloar – Director, Centre for Social Research in Health

Tony Trimingham – CEO and Founder, Family Drug Support

Mathew Townsend – Barrister

Gino Vumbuca – CEO, Harm Reduction Australia

Dr Alex Wodak – Emeritus Consultant, Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

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