Residents, Queen Vic Market traders face wait on injecting room call
Queen Victoria Market traders and nearby residents will need to wait longer to find out whether a supervised drug injecting room will be built at a site near the market.
Since July former police commissioner Ken Lay has been seeking the views of residents, local businesses and drug harm experts on the suitability of the government's preferred site for Melbourne's second injecting facility at Cohealth Central City on Victoria Street.
Cohealth Central City is the government’s preferred site for the state’s second medically supervised injecting facility.Credit:Justin McManus
The Andrews government was set to receive a report after months of community consultation, but Health Minister Martin Foley said it had received a request from Mr Lay to extend the review "into the new year" when face-to-face interaction will probably be easier than it has this year.
"While we remain determined to see this important and lifesaving service up and running as soon as possible, we also want to give Mr Lay the time he needs to work through the complex issues in a thorough manner," Mr Foley said in a statement.
The government has completed its initial consultation phase, speaking to experts, council, market traders and nearby residents. Early next year it will broaden talks with the public to include other local businesses, residents and people with experience of addiction.
An independent review panel examining the first injecting room trial in North Richmond recommended in June that a second facility be established in the City of Melbourne after 51 people died of overdoses there between January 2015 and September 2019.
Market stallholders and residents expressed concern at the proposed health centre site, which provides drug and alcohol counselling and homelessness and mental health services.
Lord mayor Sally Capp said at the time she was not told about the injecting room plan before it was announced. City of Melbourne council voted in July to write to the state government asking that the site be dropped because it is "inappropriate and inadequate".
The government has consistently said the Cohealth site is its preferred location, but it remains open to alternatives if a suitable one emerges – something that may occur during the consultation process.
The City of Melbourne recorded 51 overdose deaths between 2015 and 2019, second only in the state to the City of Yarra, which recorded 93.
Ambulance Victoria data shows opioid-related ambulance attendances in the City of Melbourne rose 49 per cent in the five years to 2019 and have doubled in the CBD over the same period.
The independent review of the North Richmond facility found it safely managed 3200 overdoses by March this year but had not improved local amenity.
Its trial was extended for another three years after the initial two-year program finished in June.
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