11 July 2019

Geelong Advertiser

WESTERN VICTORIA MP BEV MCARTHUR FEARS INJECTING ROOM BOUND FOR GEELONG

Olivia Reed

A WESTERN Victoria MP has taken aim at the State Government’s for its “inconsistent” stance on safe injecting rooms.

Beverley McArthur said she feared Mental Health Minister Martin Foley would not prevent a safe injecting room coming to Geelong.

“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,” she said.

“We need a definitive answer from the Andrews Government so that Geelong residents can feel safe.”

The State Government has rejected the possibility of the controversial rooms coming to the city despite new Coroner’s Court data revealing 38 people died from heroin overdoses in Geelong in the past five years.

State Government legislation has allowed for a medically-supervised injecting room to be trialled for two years in North Richmond.

Geelong is the state’s regional capital for ­heroin overdoses.

Data shows the rate of overdose fatalities in Greater Geelong more than doubles the deaths-to-­population figure for regional Victoria.

“The legislation is clear — North Richmond is the only place the medically supervised injecting room can be,” Government spokeswoman Claire Martin said. “The trial will run for two years and will then be assessed by an independent panel of experts.”

But Mrs McArthur said the State Government’s promise that the North Richmond facility would not impact residents had “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,” she said.

“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.”