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Victoria's safe injecting room to become permanent



Victoria's controversial medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond is set to become a permanent service, with a review finding it has saved 63 lives.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced his government will be introducing legislation to continue the health service indefinitely after an independent review found the facility had "successfully managed almost 6000 overdoses" since it opened in June 2018.

"This is changing lives and saving lives," Andrews said.

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He said the government also planned to enact recommendations made by the independent panel who reviewed the facility to improve safety and amenity in North Richmond and expand support for the facility's clients.

The review, which was chaired by John Ryan, recommended more be done to provide access to integrated treatment, care and support for the facility's users.

The government is therefore establishing a committee, including members of the Department of Health, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing including Homes Victoria, to ensure health, housing, homelessness, alcohol and other drug and mental health supports are offered to people who use the safe injecting room.

Andrews' government opened the safety injecting room in June 2018 as part of a two-year trial, which was then extended for another three years to June this year.

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It has attracted controversy since its opening.

Parents from a nearby primary school, Richmond West Primary School, have complained about its proximity to young children, and neighbours say there have reported an increase in crime and waste – including used syringes – in surrounding streets.

A man was found dead just metres from the injecting room in December 2022, while another man was also found overdosed close to the facility in March 2021.

Eight people, including a worker, were arrested for drug trafficking at the facility in 2019.

When asked about how the centre has affected amenities in the surrounding area, Andrews responded: "The trial has not been about amenity, the trial has been about saving lives.

"Things from an amenity point of view were very bad before, are they perfect now? No."

Plans for a second safe injecting room in Melbourne, opposite the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne CBD, were raised back in 2020.

The government has advised a decision on its opening will come in mid-2023, with Ken Lay AO, APM conducting an independent consultation into the idea.

A safe injecting room has been operating in Sydney's Kings Cross since it was set up back in 2001.

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