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Australia: Melbourne’s injecting room delay puts lives at risk as heroin overdoses spike in central business district
The return to regular trading in Melbourne’s CBD has coincided with a spike in heroin-related overdoses, with drug experts warning that stalling the city’s second safe-injecting room is putting lives at risk.
Former police commissioner Ken Lay is still finalising a report, which was meant to be handed down in 2020, that will recommend the best site for the second safe-injecting room – believed to be the former Yooralla building on Flinders Street.
The delay is putting pressure on community health professionals, who have noted an increase in overdoses and people needing immediate support for drug-and-alcohol-related health issues.
Data from Cohealth, a community health organisation and provider of choice for the second safe-injecting room, shows their City Street Health team has recorded a steady increase in the number of clients accessing the service in the past 12 months. The team has reported four overdoses in the past four months, compared with three in the previous nine months.
Greg Denham, the community partnerships facilitator at Cohealth, said that in 2022 the program engaged with more than 1,428 people in the CBD, 75% of whom were homeless.