ReGen supports trial of Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in North Richmond (09/02/17)

Melbourne, VIC, 9th February 2017 – UnitingCare ReGen is pleased to be a signatory to the Open Letter to the Victorian Parliament, published in today’s Herald Sun.

Together with 47 other signatories, ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis called on the Parliament of Victoria to support the proposed trial of a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in the North Richmond area.

Mr Alvis said:

As we indicated in our submission to the recent coronial investigation into overdose deaths in the Richmond area, there is a clear need to address the ongoing (and recently escalating) risk of opioid overdose fatalities in the area.

These deaths are preventable.

With over 15 years’ of evaluation data from Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, we know that such a service will save lives, reduce future harms associated with injecting drug use and provide an effective point of engagement with treatment and support services for some of the most marginalised people within our communities.

Existing services in the area have helped reduce the level of harm within the Richmond area, but more must be done. For those willing to consider the evidence from the Sydney centre (and similar services around the world) Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is the obvious next step.

In addition to saving lives, the establishment of such a service will have widespread benefits, including freeing up police and ambulance resources, reducing public injecting and inappropriate disposal of injecting equipment and removing the trauma experienced by local residents when exposed to scenes of public overdose.

The Sydney centre has now supervised over 1 million injections. While responding to overdoses by people using the service is a standard part of its daily operations, there has never been a fatality at the centre. Its effectiveness has been recognised by policy makers in Canada, the USA, Ireland as they move towards establishing their own centres in response to escalating harms linked to the use of heroin and other opioids. It’s time the Victorian Government did the same.

ReGen has publicly supported the establishment of a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Melbourne since 2011. The agency’s Position Statement and Supporting Evidence are available on the ReGen website.