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Keep the MSIR and improve residential amenity

The Forum is committed to supporting the community to understand and address alcohol and drug related issues as primarily health issues and to work together to develop evidence-based services and strategies aimed at reducing harms associated with alcohol and drug use.

The Forum supports the work of the Medically Supervised Injecting Room in North Richmond as a key strategy to prevent the significant number of drug overdose deaths that have at times in this community been overwhelming, where there has long been a significant heroin drug market,. Coroners reports into drug overdose deaths in the area called for the establishment of medically supervised injecting facilities to prevent such deaths. These deaths are each someone’s loved family member and friend whose great vulnerability to health-related harm is to be addicted to an illegal drug.

The impact of street based injecting drug use on the amenity of residents in North Richmond, and particularly for public housing tenants, has been significant for many years and continues to be so. We need to look at what impacts on street based injecting drug use. Regardless of its level of success, the presence of the MSIR can only be a part of the solution, reducing as it does the need for some, but not all, people who use heroin to inject in public.

The intention of the MSIR is to address the health and wellbeing issues for those people using drugs in the North Richmond area. Some had expected a consequence of the establishment of the MSIR to have greater impact on public injecting and community amenity. It is timely to be exploring other complementary and supplementary strategies to the MSIR to improve the amenity for residents of North Richmond.

The existence of a street based heroin market and the illegality of buying and using heroin contributes significantly to street-based drug use and the ensuing negative impacts for members of the local community of observing those who are drug affected or have overdosed,concerns for their own safety and wellbeing and drug related criminal activity.

Strategies to break the nexus between criminal activity and drug addiction range from decriminalizing heroin, opioid treatment to obviate the need to purchase an illegal drug, providing “wrap around” employment, housing, and health supports to provide pathways out of crime for those people who are dealing drugs to support their own addiction or committing property crimes to afford drugs.

The Yarra Drug and Health Forum is supporting the community to find and advocate for evidence based, health focused strategies to reduce street-based drug activity in North Richmond and improve residential amenity.

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