Pubdate: Wed, 17 Mar 1999
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Page: A14
Copyright: 1999 David Syme & Co Ltd
Author: Belinda Lee


While Jeff Kennett and his advisers are debating the legal pros and
cons of safe "heroin injection facilities", I cannot help but wonder
whether they have factored in the potential legal ramifications
(public liability prosecution) that could result from the existing
"hush hush" policy and practice of harm minimisation and "containment"
of heroin use, in places such as Smith Street.

That we already have injection rooms in Smith Street will come as no
surprise to local residents, traders and visitors to the area; but
they are not safe, for anyone, because they are not properly managed
and regulated, because they are not legally supposed to exist. These
are the public toilets in Smith Street, where on any day, at any hour,
the chances of finding syringes, urine, vomit and blood are fairly
high. In terms of public health and safety, these de facto "shooting
galleries" are like time-bombs ticking away, just waiting to explode.

While injection rooms will not stop all users from using public
toilets to inject, they will provide a safe and viable alternative.
They will also, hopefully, mean public toilets will again be used
primarily for their intended purpose.

While progressive and proactive harm-minimisation initiatives are
stymied by legal wrangling, the whole community pays: in terms of
quality of life, dollars and sense.


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