Melbourne To Get Safe Injecting Room

Highest heroin death toll since 2000

30 October 2017

Article heading image for Melbourne To Get Safe Injecting Room

Melbourne heroin users will get a trial safe injecting room in an overdose hotspot that saw dozens of deaths last year.

Legislation to open the room at the North Richmond Community Health Service will be introduced into parliament on Tuesday.

Former premier Jeff Kennett will oversee an expert panel that will monitor the program once it's up and running.

There were 34 heroin-related deaths in the area in 2016 and something needs to be done about the "desperately sad" situation, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

"This is a change in policy, there's no doubt about that, but it's a change that's needed," he told reporters.

"We have the highest heroin death toll since 2000."

The facility will only be open to people 18 years and older, illicit drugs won't be provided or dealt at the facility, there will be extra CCTV and Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services will be involved.

The model will be based on the injecting room in Sydney, which has been running for more than 15 years and was labelled a "success" by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in February.

The Victorian Labor government had strongly opposed a heroin injecting trial, but the mounting deaths and need to win a by-election against the Greens in the inner city seat of Northcote helped reverse their decision.

Reason Party MP Fiona Patten, who led the push for a safe injecting room, hailed the government's about-face as a win for evidence-based policy.

"It saves lives, it saves taxpayer dollars, it frees up our emergency services, it reduces crime and it delivers positive outcomes for individuals and society," Ms Patten said.


Listen Live!