Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Victorian Government's rejection of calls for a drug injecting trial in Melbourne.

ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn said injecting illicit drugs is never safe and that Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge was right to stick to the Government’s election promise to oppose such a trial.

Mr Flynn said that research by Drug Free Australia into the Sydney supervised injecting facility found that for every user injecting in the “safe” rooms they inject elsewhere a further 34 times.

“Given that every injection is dangerous the proposed facility would not offer any effective protection.”

“Reduction in drug trafficking and drug related crime will only be achieved by rehabilitating addicts towards drug free status, not maintaining them in their addiction,” Mr Flynn said.

“The Sydney facility is estimated to cost in excess of $2.5m a year to run. That money would be more appropriately spent on programs to get addicts off drugs, including funding drug rehabilitation beds.”

A report by Dr Andrew Byrne in 2006 (cited in the Drug Free Australia report, p. 2) into the Sydney facility reveals that drugs regularly injected included heroin, ‘ice’ and cocaine.

Mr Flynn said that there was little evidence from assessments of the Sydney facility that drug users had been effectively referred to programs that helped them end their addiction.

“The message that injecting rooms send is that injecting is ok and can be safe. This is not a message we should be sending out to Victoria’s young people,” he said.

Drug Free Australia’s analysis of the Final Report of the Evaluation of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) reveals that the “overdose rate in the injecting room was 36 times higher than on the streets of Kings Cross."

Australia is obliged by International treaties to reduce demand for illicit drugs.

The United Nations International Narcotic Control Board, in a 2001 report, stated:

“. . . the operation of such facilities, where addicts inject themselves with illicit substances, condones Illicit drug use and drug trafficking and runs counter to the provisions of the international drug treaties.” (Para. 559)

Apart from the one facility in Sydney, no other Australian State or Territory has supported injecting rooms.

“The AMA should not be supporting such initiatives but instead investigating ways to treat and rehabilitate drug addicts,” Mr Flynn said.

“The Victorian Government should investigate the successful Swedish approach to illicit drugs. Key elements of the Swedish model are mandatory drug rehabilitation for those found addicted to drugs and strong policing of street selling.”