VACCHO supports passing of life-saving medically supervised injecting room bill

May 5, 2023

WARNING: VACCHO advises that the following Media Release contains references to drug-related deaths.

VACCHO supports the passing of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) Bill 2023 which will make the North Richmond Safe Injection Room facility permanent and widen eligibility criteria to provide vital lifesaving healthcare to vulnerable members of Community. 

The legislation passed parliament following a debate in the state’s upper house, with the Bill to be sent to the governor for royal assent.

The proposed amendments to the Bill are based on recommendations of an independent review of the facility by renowned public health researcher John Ryan.

The ‘Fatal overdose among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Victoria 2018-2021 report’ states a majority of the fatal overdoses amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were unintentional. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience fatal overdoses at a rate more than three times higher than non-Indigenous people. In 2023, the significant disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people should not exist.

The North Richmond centre provides life-saving healthcare for some of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalised members of the Community.

Since commencing in 2018, the trial at North Richmond has saved an estimated 63 lives and safely managed 6,000 overdoses. VACCHO strongly supports these vital public health measures that continue to save lives and reduce harms.

Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria Ken Lay AO has been appointed to lead an independent consultation and to provide advice on establishing a medically supervised injecting service trial in the City of Melbourne.

VACCHO has welcomed the invitation to be part of this important consultation to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and perspectives are prominent and central to the way forward.

Executive Director of Social and Emotional Wellbeing at VACCHO, Sheree Lowe, welcomes the bill’s passing.

“This year’s Coroners Court of Victoria report demonstrated that Aboriginal families in Victoria continue to be severely impacted by addiction.”

“The North Richmond initiative is one important part of a multifaceted services system to help manage the complex forms of trauma that lead to addiction. This service along with holistic supports are required to provide important life-saving support to Community.”

NOTE: Your social and emotional safety is important. If this has brought up any concerns or issues for you, please have a yarn with Yarnin Safe’n’Strong (1800 959 563) or 13YARN (13 32 16).

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VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 33 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.