Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Victoria takes shot at permanent supervised injecting room

Victoria’s Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR) in North Richmond will be made permanent after an independent review found the trial has saved 63 lives, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced.

The Premier said the program had successfully managing almost 6,000 overdoses, taking pressure off local hospitals and reducing ambulance call outs.

The Victorian Government today introduced legislation to establish the health service as an ongoing service – with immediate measures to be taken to further boost safety and amenity in the North Richmond precinct and increase wrap-around supports for MSIR clients.

“This independent report has shown that the Medically Supervised Injecting Room has succeeded, with 63 Victorians alive today because of their work,” the Premier said.

“We will now strengthen the service to give clients better access to social, housing and mental health supports so the service continues to do what it is designed to do – save lives and change lives.”

An independent review of the service, chaired by John Ryan, made 10 recommendations – including continuing the MSIR as an ongoing service, expanding support for clients, and addressing safety and amenity through stronger collaboration between agencies.

The review recommended that more should be done to provide access to integrated treatment, care and support for vulnerable groups.

To deliver increased wrap-around support for clients, a permanent committee will be established – formally bringing together the Department of Health, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing including Homes Victoria, the Premier confirmed.

He said the committee will work to ensure health, housing, homelessness, alcohol and other drug and mental health supports are easily accessible for clients.

The review also recognised the profound outcomes delivered by dedicated staff at North Richmond Community Health during the trial, and recommended a recommissioning process be undertaken to identify a provider with capacity to deliver the expanded care model at the existing North Richmond site into the future, the Premier said.

“By ensuring the MSIR can deliver more integrated health and social services, the service will align closely with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System to better meet the long-term needs of both clients and the broader North Richmond community,” he said.

The Victorian Government is set to consider each recommendation of the review but has already ruled out adopting Recommendation 2 – which proposes expanding MSIR access to include peer/partner injecting and consideration of removal of other eligibility barriers, including barriers for people on court orders.

“We’ll continue to do all we can to reduce drug harm and support those that are struggling with addiction to get the support they need to live a better life,” said Minister for Mental Health, Gabrielle Williams.

Ken Lay AO, APM is continuing his independent consultation into a proposed second supervised injecting service in the City of Melbourne and is set to deliver his final report in mid-2023.

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