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Another Drug Injecting Room? No Thanks!


The future of Victoria’s contentious trial of a drug injecting room finally appears to be clear, with an announcement by the state Labor government that it will “introduce legislation to establish the health service.”

The government is taking this action following the finalisation of a review into the Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR) trial, which found, in part, that the trial “has saved 63 lives” while also “successfully managing almost 6,000 overdoses.”

The panel made 10 recommendations to the government, including that the MSIR continue.

The government says it will consider each of the panel’s recommendations but ruled out adopting the second one which involves expanding MSIR access to include peer/partner injecting, amongst other things.

The challenge of managing drug-addicted residents is one faced by legislators worldwide.

For example, in California, the governor recently vetoed a bill to allow the creation of a supervised drug injection site—stalling plans by proponents of this idea.

Epoch Times Photo
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/ The Epoch Times)

There will undoubtedly be very mixed views in response to the Victorian announcement that the MSIR will be continuing. It has also been widely reported that the government has already purchased a property on Flinders Street opposite the main station in Melbourne.

Such a proposal will be met with either strong support, or strong opposition and complete dismay.

Many residents consistent in their opposition to this facility have once again been ignored.

Bad Experiences With Existing Facility

The current premier, Daniel Andrews, promised before the 2018 state election that there would be no drug injecting facilities in Victoria.

However, within a relatively short time, his government commenced a two-year trial of such a room in North Richmond in Melbourne.

Undoubtedly, one of the most controversial aspects of this facility is its location—a mere 37 metres (121 feet) from the Richmond West Primary School.

This has caused considerable issues for the students and families of this school. These have been widely reported over the years and include students being regularly subject to antisocial and dangerous behaviour from drug users, having to walk around drug paraphernalia, and in one tragic case, witnessing the dead body of a drug user in front of the school.

Unsurprisingly, these incidents have had a very distressing, ongoing impact on local students and families.

Epoch Times Photo
Students play at recess at Lysterfield Primary School, in Melbourne, Australia, on May 26, 2020. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

This is also the view of the Victorian opposition, whose mental health spokeswoman stated, “The political spin … to try and justify how normal it is for a primary school to need prison-like security because the government built an injecting room next door is simply ludicrous.”

Despite this, Victorian Education Minister Natalie Hutchins said recently, “I’m confident that the school has been able to operate successfully and continue to thrive to date.”

Members of the community have been calling for years for the facility to be relocated to a more suitable site. For example, in an industrial area or even co-located at a hospital.

Some opponents of the facility have been calling for rehabilitation facilities and resources to be installed at the current site, rather than facilitating an otherwise illegal activity.

Legalising drug taking behaviour sends very mixed messages to the community, particularly young people who are often vulnerable to such addictions.

Local police have also been plagued with issues, including behavioural problems for users, and criticism for seemingly not enforcing drug related laws around the area.

Now the bigger question for Victorians is, will another such facility be built in their city?

Doing so would certainly add to the state’s existing drug problems and adversely impact the amenity and safety of Melbournians, tourists, and businesses nearby.

For the sake of law-abiding citizens and victims, one would hope not.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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