Drug Injecting Rooms – not a stand-alone solution. Overall, we believe that harm reduction should only be used as part of the continuum of care rather than as a stand-alone solution. The experience of MSIRs in Australia and North America demonstrates that offering a location for people to safely inject drugs without having it actively linked to a referral system leads to even more dangerous situations, such as a high risk of overdose, higher drug use, and increased profit for drug dealers. Based on the research, we can only conclude that providing a safe location to inject drugs is not the ultimate solution. It is contradictory to offer access to drugs to only then have to intervene with naloxone to reverse overdose. The report clearly shows that MSIRs have become an environment in which drug users feel they are able to “safely” experiment with different types of drugs, leading to exponentially higher. Regina Mattsson Secretary General World Federation Against Drugs(WFAD) made to the President of the International Narcotics Control Board 2021
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Canada’s Drug Strategy is based on four pillars: prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction. SCS sites speak to the issue of harm reduction. However, the way this multipronged approach is currently implemented in Alberta, harm reduction has taken precedence over the other three pillars. Often the Review Committee heard that treatment referrals from SCS sites were little more than nominal suggestions and rarely in the consultation process did anyone speak to the issue of prevention. We were provided with exceedingly limited documentation of successful referrals of SCS clients into the appropriate level of addiction recovery treatment.
Another concern for the Committee related to law enforcement in and around the sites. Contrary to what many believe, trafficking and possession of illicit drugs remains illegal. Substances such as heroin, non-prescribed fentanyl and methamphetamine are still restricted under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The exemption under Section 56.1 is, “For the purpose of allowing certain activities to take placeat a supervised consumption site…” This exemption is not a blanket one that suspends the act in some broadly undefined vicinity of the site; it is applied explicitly at the site. The exemption does not authorize drug dealing, or the possession of substantial quantities of illegal substances within an arbitrary distance from the site. (excerpt pp 34,35)
The above sounds familiar – all too familiar. When harm reduction vehicles serve the pro-drug lobby and not the substance use trapped psyche, it is utterly inappropriate.
It is very concerning when the health and well-being of those caught in the tyranny of addiction are not being led into drug use exiting processes, but merely becoming a hapless pawn in a disturbing and manipulative exercise of drug use ‘normalization.’
Instead of an efficacy for recovery review, we are going to double down on another drug consumption site, only perpetuating the growing personal and community harms.
Dozens of people have been arrested for drug offences as part of police crackdown near Melbourne’s controversial safe injecting room.
Victoria Police charged 16 people with drug trafficking and 14 people with drug possession in Richmond, Collingwood and Fitzroy during April.
The arrests come after a turbulent past month for the North Richmond medically supervised injecting room that saw a man caught inside the Richmond West Primary School grounds allegedly wielding a knife, while another man was found dead in a park near the school.
Disgruntled parents, who have encountered drug users unconscious, dealing, defecating and urinating next to the primary school, held a crisis meeting in March to demand the injecting room be moved.
While police made no mention of the injecting room in announcing the arrests, Acting Superintendent Kelvin Gale said they were “unwavering” in their commitment to minimising the devastating impacts of drugs on the community.
A man is arrested inside the grounds of Richmond West Primary School after allegedly being found with a knife. Picture: Jason Edwards
“Our number one priority is community safety and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure everyone in Yarra is safe,” he said.
“The harm caused by illicit drugs ripples throughout our entire community – with drug-fuelled violence, burglaries and thefts committed to support an addiction, drug-related road trauma, family violence and sexual assaults.”
Operation Enforcement, a new dedicated local drug enforcement strategy, involves police with local businesses and stakeholders to analyse intelligence every day and provide a targeted response to prevent and illicit drug activity across Richmond, Collingwood and Fitzroy.
Five men and a woman were charged with drug trafficking and dealing with the proceeds of crime after police allegedly seized cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms (Psilocybin), cash, six tasers and OC spray at a house in Clifton Hill on April 6. Among the other 24 people arrested was a 45-year-old man allegedly found with heroin, about $1000 worth of casino chips, thousands of dollars in cash and multiple mobile phones in his car in Richmond.
Superintendent Gale said police would continue to have a proactive, ongoing focus targeting street level drug dealing and possession in Yarra local government area.
Drug Free Australia: A formal complaint has been sent to the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) citing overwhelming evidence that Australia’s two injecting rooms – one each in Sydney and Melbourne – are both tacitly aiding and abetting the local drug trade, significantly enriching drug dealers.
The Sydney injecting room hosts overdose rates which are up to 63 times higher than the overdose histories of its own clients before they register to use the facility, while the Melbourne injecting room has overdose rates a staggering 102 times higher. Even with 23% of Melbourne’s clients being recently released from prison, a situation which somewhat elevates the chance of an overdose, overdose rates are still 70 times higher than normal.
Neil Mitchel of 3aw believes that the injecting room is “off the rails” and should be moved as it is “putting the lives of addicts ahead of the lives of residents and kids.”
But what is more concerning is his interview with the Secretary of Victorian ambulance union Danny Hill. In Danny Hills interview he said many falsehoods and repeated misinformation.
At the start of the interview which you can listen to in the address below, he stated that “Previously we had around 30 deaths in the space of a year in that block and we haven’t had one since.” When questioned about the person who unfortunately died on Thursday he said that “I don’t know the circumstances of yesterday”
Eventually after more cross examination he admitted that he meant that there were “No deaths in the room”
Neil Mitchel asked if there had been any deaths in the area, and he replied “Look I don’t know. But um, there’s none that I um, …that would be the first one, um, that I’ve heard of since the centre has been open.” And that “We had many many more bodies in the streets prior to this centre being opened”
he continued to say that “In the Richmond area the coroner found that there was about 30 [deaths] that went on over the space of a year in a three or four block radius.”
But let’s get to the facts.
The coroner did not say that there were 30 deaths in a three or four block area (which has consistently been misquoted), but rather that in the entire City of Yarra there were 25 deaths in 2018, 16 in 2017, 20 in 2016, 19 in 2015 and 11 in 2014. No square block of area was ever mentioned. This is data from the entire City of Yarra which includes Abbotsford, Collingwood, Carlton, Clifton Hill, Cremorne, Burnley and Fitzroy.
Secondly, the review report showed that whilst in the years before the injection centre, the City of Yarra averaged 19 heroin related deaths per year, in the first 15 months of the injecting rooms operation, the City of Yarra has had 27 deaths, or at a slightly increased rate of 21.6 per year. That’s right, the City of Yarra has seen a greater number of heroin related deaths since the injecting room has been operating.
How the Secretary of Victorian ambulance union Danny Hill remarkably is unaware of this is startling. His falsehood of “many many more bodies” beforehand is clearly wrong, misleading, and outright deceitful.
Even if we look at the number of heroin related deaths within 1km of the injecting room, the review panel report shows that prior to the injecting rooms operation there was on average 10.6 deaths per year. Since the rooms operation the death rate within 1km of the injecting room has been at a rate of 12.8 deaths per year, or a 20% increase.
There wasn’t many many more deaths before. In fact the complete opposite. The number of heroin related deaths in City of Yarra and North Richmond has increased.
Perhaps Secretary of Victorian ambulance union Danny Hill should get his facts right and his memory sorted before he tries again to mislead the public.
Feel free to email Neil Mitchel and also educate Danny Hills here in the links shown below:
The Herald Sun can reveal Richmond West Primary School, which is metres from the injecting room, had been placed into lockdown twice in less than a week.
In one incident a man was caught inside the school grounds allegedly wielding a knife at 2.50pm on Wednesday. He was charged with trespass, possessing a controlled weapon and breach of bail.
One parent said her son had seen drug users injecting themselves in the school grounds and had seen several people overdosing nearby.
“I am too fearful to send my son to school,” she said. “He has picked up needles when walking to school, he has seen fights, all of it — it needs to stop.
“This injecting room has been nothing but trouble — it needs to be moved. I’m scared a child is going to get seriously hurt due to the violent people this place attracts.
“We are living in fear, constant fear. Our lives matter too.”
Nearby resident Mark Soffer, who has lived in the area for five years, said the issue got worse every year.
“I can’t walk down the street without coming across someone who is under the influence of drugs,” Mr Soffer said. “The reality is, people like us with young kids are thinking of moving out. We don’t want to raise our daughter in this environment.”
Another local, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, said she had seen men unwittingly expose themselves to children while high on drugs.
“It’s just disgusting,” she said. “I can’t believe this is happening around school grounds. I am looking to move out of the area as it’s just become so dangerous.
“I think there needs to be more security around this facility and more police — it’s not safe and not a nice place to raise a family.”
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said: “Our focus on detecting, deterring and preventing crime while also apprehending offenders is unwavering.
“We understand it would be confronting to witness incidents of criminal activity or anti-social behaviour.”
Opposition mental health spokeswoman Emma Kealy said heroin-related overdose deaths and ambulance attendances were on the rise and kids were regularly locked down in the classroom.
“A dead body outside a Labor government-operated drug-injecting centre, and violent drug-induced behaviour, is something no child should face on their walk to school,” she said.
But Health Minister Martin Foley backed the injecting room’s location. “Where the drug market operates, sadly, is in the North Richmond community, and that is where this centre is and that is where it will continue to operate for the rest of this five-year trial that is under way,” he said.
“That is why every independent review that has looked at this process supports it being where the harm is, and that is why this government will continue to support it.”
An education department spokesman said the safety and wellbeing of students, staff and school communities was the highest priority.
“The school currently takes appropriate steps to ensure students are kept safe from issues in the local community, with secure fencing, CCTV, strong protocols in place to support students who may witness any incident, and a comprehensive student wellbeing program,” he said.
AFTERNOON OF HORROR UNFOLDS
For North Richmond mum Tina, her daily routine includes seeing discarded heroin syringes, passed-out drug users and deals on the street.
Like many parents, she doesn’t feel like her voice is being heard.
It’s what has become the norm. A daily cycle of violence, disturbance and fear.
The shocking has become the every day.
When the Herald Sun visited drug-plagued Lennox Street on Wednesday, a string of shocking incidents unfolded within minutes.
Outside Richmond’s controversial supervised injecting room a man was seen lying under a tree — overdosed — just after 1.30pm.
“This has just become the norm for us,” a resident told the Herald Sun.
A group of men emerge from the facility, then rummage through the comatosed man’s belongings.
A terrified mother, passing by, is seen tightly holding on to her child’s hand. She walks off the footpath and into the road to avoid the chaos.
A local resident, who was visibly panicked, immediately phoned triple-0, to alert them to the man’s condition and theft of his belongings.
Then, just before the bell rings for end of the school day, a man is seen, brandishing a knife, in the school grounds.
Stunned parents look on as police officers swoop on him.
The incident sends the primary school into lockdown.
Tina, waiting to pick up her children, said she was left “shocked” by the incident.
“This makes me feel really scared, our voices are not being heard,” she said. “We are sick of finding needles everywhere and seeing people overdosed constantly, this is getting out of hand.”
Back at the overdosed man, paramedics have arrived and are working on the motionless figure. He is revived, an hour after the initial triple-0 call, awakening with a jolt.
He begins to shout, opening his bag and pulling out dozens of syringes.
A safe injecting room worker who attempted to help him was then forcibly pushed — with the man screaming: “Leave me alone, leave my stuff alone”.
Another man on drugs, who walks out from the injecting facility, rolls up his T-shirt to cover his face. He then chases a man, who has to seek refuge in a neighbour’s back garden as the thug continues to hurl abuse.
Another resident calls out “nothing has changed in years”.
“To be honest, whoever thought it was a smart idea to put an injecting facility near a school is truly stupid,” he said.
On Thursday a man is found dead. It is believed to be drug-related.
Back outside the injecting room complex, a group of men are seen brazenly drug dealing
And the daily cycle begins again.