The Melbourne Supervised Injecting Centre has been a lifesaving breakthrough for many injecting drug users. But it is just one step in addressing drug use in the area, and significant action must be taken to address ongoing public drug use and related issues around Victoria St and the Richmond estate, including threats and violence.
We shouldn't have to chose between drug users accessing lifesaving health care and residents, traders and visitors feeling safe - we can have both.
The Greens strongly support the MSIC and its thorough evaluation, including an evaluation of the most appropriate site for the service. We have pledged $14million for the continuation of the service ($3.5m per year for the next term of parliament).
However, the MSIC alone cannot address the serious problems residents, traders and visitors encounter in the Victoria St area or on the Richmond estate. These need a concerted, coordinated state government-led response, that aims to address the root causes that push vulnerable people onto Victoria st and which includes appropriate housing, drug-related health and mental health services and support, provided through assertive outreach. The crisis in affordable housing and mental health services is one of the elements that feeds in to the situation in the area, as people without these services self-medicate and at times spiral into homelessness and public drug use. In addition, effective strategies to stop non-residents entering public housing to inject in laundry areas, stairwells and other spaces must be agreed to and consistently implemented.
If elected, I will establish an ongoing task force to drive a strong, appropriate response to the drug-related problems around Victoria St that ensures vulnerable people get the services they need and that residents, traders and visitors are safe and secure, and to identify other responses needed. I will then advocate to the government for the resources needed to implement the identified solutions.