Daniel Andrews asked by Victorian medical bodies to open Melbourne CBD’s supervised injecting room

26 September 2023

Written by: Connor Burns

The open letter said over 40 people had died in the CBD from drug overdoses in the last three years.

Victorian medical professionals have written an open letter to Premier Daniel Andrews to open a supervised injecting room in Melbourne’s CBD.

The Premier announced in 2020 that his government would open a second injecting room on the back of recommendations in the Hamilton Report.

A timeframe of when the facility will be established is still yet to be determined.

The open letter, which was co-signed by 18 organisations including the Australian medical Association Victoria, believed that unsafe injecting had become worse in the City of Melbourne.

“Since your announcement more than three years ago, unsafe injecting continues on the streets of Melbourne and drug harms in the City of Melbourne have worsened,” the letter read.

It stated that over 40 people had died in the CBD from drug overdoses in the last three years.

“Countless others have suffered non-fatal overdoses in the city streets. There have been more than a thousand heroin-related ambulance callouts in the CBD,” it read.

“When people die or are injured from entirely preventable causes, we must respond.”

Despite the frustration by medical professionals, a Victorian government spokesperson said it was “taking the time to get it right”.

In 2020 the state government asked police commissioner Ken Lay to conduct a report into the prospect of a supervised injecting room in the CBD.

Lay’s final report was given to the Mental Health Minister Gabrielle Williams in May highlighting barriers to forming the centre.

“The findings in Ken Lay’s report highlight the complexity of this matter,” the government spokesperson said.

AMA Victoria President Jill Tomlinson fears that the delay in opening the safe injecting room will lead to more deaths and that action is necessary to keep our communities safe.

“We haven’t seen a follow through on that commitment, so people continue to die,” she said.

Tomlinson said that she lived near the safe injecting room in Richmond and had noticed a positive difference since it was established in 2018.

“Before the safe injecting facility, I was regularly stopping on Victoria Street to help someone who had collapsed from overdose,” she said.

“Seeing the positive outcome has led me, and encourages all AMA Victoria members, to advocate for this service.”

Photo: A safe infection room by Claude Truong-Ngoc available HERE is used under Creative Commons licence. This image has not been modified.