About

The Victorian Govt won’t open a planned safe injecting room

Share
Victoria has rejected advice to set up an injecting room in Melbourne's CBD, saying an appropriate location couldn't be found.
Victoria will not go ahead with a planned second injecting room.

The Victorian Government will not go ahead with plans to set up a supervised injecting room in Melbourne’s CBD.

Premier Jacinta Allan said there’s no appropriate location in Melbourne city that “balances the needs of people who use drugs with the needs of the broader CBD community”.

The Greens’ drug harm reduction spokesperson Aiv Puglielli called the Government’s decision “spineless“ and said it could lead to more drug-related deaths.

Injecting rooms

Supervised injecting rooms are hygienic places where a person can inject drugs under medical supervision.

Doctors ask users about what drugs they’re taking and can quickly respond to an overdose if it occurs.

Supervised injecting facilities can also provide mental health support, treatment for addiction, and blood testing services.

Victoria

The Victorian Government set up the state’s first supervised injecting room in Richmond in 2018, just outside the CBD.

The Richmond facility has medically responded to more than 8,000 overdoses. An independent review found it’s saved more than 60 lives.

In June 2020, then-Premier Daniel Andrews committed to opening up a second injecting site in Melbourne’s CBD.

Lay report

A report was commissioned by the Victorian Government into the proposed establishment of this new supervised injecting room.

The report, led by former head of Victoria Police Ken Lay, handed down its recommendations in May 2023. It has taken nearly a year for the government to make that report public.

Lay’s report noted there were 54 drug deaths in the City of Melbourne between 2020 and 2021, making it the deadliest site for drug use in Victoria. Lay recommended setting up a small injecting room in Melbourne’s CBD.

Govt comments

Today, the Victorian Government announced it would not set up an injecting room in Melbourne’s CBD.

While admitting it was “disappointing”, Premier Jacinta Allan said the Government could not find a suitable location for a second injecting room.

The Government accepted Lay’s other recommendations to improve healthcare responses and drug treatments for people struggling with addiction.

Opposition

The Victorian Coalition has long opposed plans to open up more injecting rooms around the state, and previously warned the Richmond injecting room was having a negative impact on community safety.

Shadow Mental Health Minister Emma Kealy said the Government’s decision to “walk away from a second injecting room is the right outcome”.

“This long-overdue decision ends years of uncertainty for residents, traders, and visitors to Melbourne’s CBD”.

Industry view

The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA), the state’s peak body for services in drugs and alcohol, said the decision was disappointing.

CEO Chris Christoforou said experts had backed a second injecting room, saying: “Fear and stigma continue to [obstruct] good public policy”.

However, the VAADA welcomed the state government’s plan to improve access to drug-related services across Victoria.

Become smarter in three minutes

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed, for free.

Be the smart friend in your group chat

Join thousands of young Aussies and get our 5 min daily newsletter on what matters in your world.

It’s easy. It’s trustworthy. It’s free.