RACP submission calls for Melbourne medically supervised injecting centre

A Parliamentary Inquiry submission from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
has urged the Victorian Government to reconsider its opposition to a proposed
medically supervised injecting centre in Richmond.

The RACP made a submission to the Victorian Parliament Inquiry into the Drugs, Poisons
and Controlled Substances Amendment Bill 2017 (Pilot Medically Supervised Injecting
outlining the evidence that medically supervised injecting facilities:

  • prevent fatal overdoses
  • prevent permanent brain damage through immediate interventions for non-fatal
  • reduce risky injecting practices thereby minimising the risk of infections and disease
  • support the health of clients in the long term by linking them to appropriate treatment
  • positively impact on the broader local community as residents no longer witness drug
    use in the streets or risk stepping over needles.

The proposed private member’s bill is currently before the parliament, it recommends an 18-
month trial of a facility in Victoria.

RACP President, Dr Catherine Yelland said that supporting this bill and establishing a pilot
medically supervised injecting centre in Richmond, a known hotspot for drug use, was a
crucial step in the fight to save lives.

“In 2015 alone there were 172 deaths from drug overdoses in Victoria. Alarmingly 75 per
cent of these were drug users for ten years or more.

“As medical specialists, we are well aware that many vulnerable individuals fall through the
cracks and beyond the reach of traditional outreach services.

“In its first 10 years the medically supervised injecting centre in Kings Cross, Sydney,
successfully managed 4,376 drug overdoses without a single fatality and to this day and
continues to be at the forefront of saving lives and reducing harm in the community,” said Dr

Dr Yelland added that contrary to some reports and commentary, the evidence shows that
medically supervised injecting centres do not attract drugs users to the areas in which they
operate and that local communities had typically supported them.

Evaluations of similar facilities in Sydney, Canada and Europe, showed financial benefits
exceeded costs. Additionally, these facilities reduce the load on over-worked emergency
services, like police and hospitals.

“By having medical staff on hand, it allows for early intervention in an overdose situation
which significantly reduces the risk of death or injury,” said Dr Yelland.

“These facilities have also been shown to succeed in reaching out to vulnerable and
marginalised individuals who may not otherwise access health and welfare services.

“Supporting this bill is in-line with the Victorian Government’s own move to extend outreach
services to communities in need and we strongly urge the Victorian Government to
reconsider its position on the issue.”

Read more about the Kings Cross Facility in the RACP Medically Supervised Injecting
Centre Position Statement (2012).

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