In 2018, the Victorian Government will be trialling a medically supervised injecting room at North Richmond Community Health.

With the high numbers of Victorians losing their lives to drug-related overdoses, the medically supervised injecting room (MSIR) is a safety-first, medical approach focused on harm reduction.

After consulting with architects and builders, a transitional MSIR will be built by refurbishing available space in the current North Richmond Community Health building and will be operational by mid-2018.

This will ensure a medically supervised injecting room can commence as soon as possible to reduce public injecting, improve neighbourhood amenity and ultimately, save lives.

This transitional facility is expected to operate until mid-2019, when operations then move to a purpose built facility on the North Richmond Community Health site.

The regulations for the MSIR have been released, setting out the types and quantities of injectable drugs that can be used at the centre.

The decision to allow all injectable drugs of dependence in the MSIR was made on the advice of an expert panel – made up of medical professionals and Victoria Police.

Evidence shows that the vast majority of people using the facility will be injecting heroin. Tragically, 35 people died from overdoses related to heroin purchased in the City of Yarra in 2015 alone.

We also know that the majority of heroin users use other kinds of drugs. So, if there’s a limit on the types of drugs allowed in the supervised injecting room, we would be preventing many people from accessing the trial, and limiting both the trial’s short and long-term benefits.

The MSIR will act as a gateway for clients to link with other health and support services ensuring they have access to the full range of education and treatment they to need to reduce harm from their drug use and ultimately kick their drug dependency.

It will also work to reduce overdose deaths and overdose harm, improve neighbourhood amenity for local residents and businesses, and reduce the number of discarded needles and syringes in the neighbouring areas.

The trial will take place for an initial two year period with the option to extend the trial for a further three years. 

The MSIR will operate under strict oversight including:

  • legislation to ensure the room can only operate at the North Richmond Community Health site for the duration of the trial
  • allowing only people aged over 18 years to use the facility
  • ensuring that illegal drugs won’t be provided or dealt at the facility
  • additional security measures, including 13 recently installed CCTV cameras near the facility and in surrounding streets
  • working closely with Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services to support community safety while minimising drug harm.

The government recently announced that there will be a significant boost to the resources of Victoria Police within the Yarra Local Area Command, with 13 new police on the frontline from 1 July 2018.

The government is also introducing new laws targeting heroin dealers and organised crime groups that are involved in trafficking drugs. The safety of our community remains an important motivator for us to get drug law reform right, and partnering with Victoria Police is a key part of the solution.

An Expert Advisory Group has been established – including health, community sector, consumers and community safety experts – to provide advice on the development of regulations to govern the MSIR.

In addition to this group, a panel of health and community representatives has also been established to review the effectiveness of the MSIR.

Consultations will continue to take place ahead of the service opening in mid-2018.

  • local community information sessions to enable residents and traders to stay informed and ask questions about the MSIR and how it will operate
  • consultations with experts to inform regulations and management protocols
  • further engagement and communication with the alcohol and other drug sector as this initiative and the wider Drug Rehabilitation Plan are being implemented.

The department and North Richmond Community Health will work together with key stakeholders including the City of Yarra, local residents, schools, and businesses to ensure they are engaged with, and informed each step of the way.

The medically supervised injecting room is part of the Drug Rehabilitation Plan which builds on the work done through the Ice Action Plan to save lives, treat users, keep our streets safe, and to crack down on dealers.

If you would like more information about the service, download the FAQs or email aod.enquiries@dhhs.vic.gov.au or call us on (03) 9096 7183 or 1300 366 356 (Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm).