melbournetimesweekly.com.au, February 05, 2013

State shoots down Yarra safe injecting room push

The fight for a safe injecting room in Yarra has been dealt a fresh blow after the state government officially ruled them out of its new alcohol and drugs policy.

The government has long refused to give the green light to the controversial proposal, which is supported by several health and drug organisations.

The government instead doubled its funding for pharmacotherapy, such as opiate substitute methadone or opiate blocker naltrexone.

The strategy document stated pharmacotherapy had "a higher impact and broader application than the establishment of such a facility".

Yarra Drug and Health forum executive officer Greg Denham said the strategy "didn't change anything" in the efforts to introduce a safe injecting facility in Yarra.

"We will continue to raise the issue of public injecting for Yarra. Without a strategy [change], we will continue to see people overdose and die," he said.

Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre director Dan Lubman said international research and experience in Sydney had shown that safe injecting rooms could be effective in managing illicit drug use as part of a comprehensive strategy.

The recently released Reducing the Alcohol and Drugs Toll: Victoria's Plan 2013-2017 states use of most drugs remained steady but the use of amphetamines such as "ice" was increasing.

Emergency departments will get $12 million to deal with alcohol and drug-affected patients. Laws will be strengthened to respond better to new and synthesised drugs.


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