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Beverley McArthur MP, Member for Western Victorian Region today expressed concern that the commitment from the Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley that Geelong would “never” be home to a publicly funded “safe injecting room” would not be upheld.

“The Andrews government’s stance on safe injecting rooms has been inconsistent,” she said.  “First Ms Couzens lent her support for a Geelong facility and now Mr Foley has argued that there will in fact be no such facility, all the while refusing to rule out similar services across the State.  We need a definitive answer from the Andrews Government so that Geelong residents can feel safe.”

Indeed, when first elected, Premier Daniel Andrews did not support government funded injecting rooms.  However, subsequently the Premier launched just such a place for the use of heroin users. The service has since expanded to accommodate methamphetamine users.

Fears for such a facility in Geelong and potentially other areas across the State stem from the opening of a controversial facility in North Richmond in June last year.  Data recently released by the centre has shown nearly 3,000 people have used the facility.  A further expansion of the facility just been completed which effectively enables almost twice as many drug users to access the service. 

Mrs McArthur said: “Daniel Andrews promise that the North Richmond drug injecting facility would not impact residents has clearly been broken.  The local community have expressed their fear and concern about the increased drug related activity alongside the centre and small businesses have been detrimentally affected by a facility which is also just metres from a primary school.”

Mrs McArthur cited the need for increased security measures and clean-up requirements which clearly demonstrate the negative effect that the drug injecting centre had on the area. 

The coroner also revealed there has been no reduction in Heroin related deaths in the North Richmond area despite the establishment of the $7.2 million facility. 

“So-called ‘safe’ injecting rooms are clearly problematic and this controversial solution to drug deaths needs a lot more work before Geelong goes down the Richmond path”, Mrs McArthur concluded. 

9 July 2019
Contact Bev McArthur MP 0418 593 169

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