The two-year trial of a medically supervised injecting room at the North Richmond Community Health Centre in Melbourne’s inner suburbs will help save lives and create safer communities, says Jesuit Social Services.

“Recently released data showed that deaths from drug overdoses in the Yarra Council area, which includes Richmond, have grown by 40 per cent this year,” says Jesuit Social Services Acting CEO Sally Parnell.

“The Victorian Government’s decision to trial a medically supervised injecting room will make our streets safer and more importantly save lives.”

In its response to the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety’s Inquiry into Drug Law Reform in September 2017, Jesuit Social Services supported the trial of a place-based medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond.

Ms Parnell says there is extensive evidence from other jurisdictions, including Sydney where a supervised injecting centre has operated in Kings Cross for 16 years, that facilities like the one to be trialled in North Richmond reduce the likelihood of fatal overdoses and public substance use.

“Evidence also shows us that medically supervised injecting centres do not impact on crime rates or increase drug trafficking or use –in fact, they increase links between vulnerable people and vital community support services,” says Ms Parnell.

Jesuit Social Services has also welcomed an expansion of the Drug Court in Victoria, which supports people with substance abuse problems to receive support while steering them away from potential involvement with the prison system.

“It is positive to see the Victorian Government continue to look at the evidence of what works in this space, both in Australia and internationally,” says Ms Parnell.

“We must focus on health-based responses, not punitive responses, to tackle these serious societal issues and work towards the safer communities we all want to be part of.”

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