Pubdate: Thu, 1 Apr 1999
Source: Gold Coast Sun (Australia)
Fax: +61 7 5597 2182


FEARS that a Queensland Health-funded mobile needle exchange bus was about
to be based on the Southern Gold Coast have been allayed by the Member for
Currumbin and Minister for Emergency Services, Merri Rose.

Mrs Rose said after talks with service providers Gold Coast AIDS Association
and Injectors Newsline (GAIN), she could confirm that the bus would not be
coming to either the Coolangatta, Palm Beach or Burleigh areas.

She said GAIN had based their decision on the results of community
consultation and on concerns expressed by some sections of the community
about a needle exchange service.

"GAIN has advised me that there is not a need for the service on the
Southern Gold Coast," she said.

"However GAIN management are still evaluating the need for the service
elsewhere on the Coast."

Mrs Rose was critical of Gold Coast City Councillors Daphne McDonald, Sue
Robbins and Paul Gamin for what she claimed was the politicisation of the
issue through the local media.

"What I do not want to see is politically-motivated grand-standing that
could endanger our children," she said.

"That includes those who are drug users and those at risk from needles that
have not been properly disposed of."

Cr McDonald, who originally brought the issue to the attention of the media,
said she remained firm in her opposition to the needle exchange and safe sex
information van coming to her division.

A Gold Coast Council Health and Cultural Services committee meeting on March
25 voted to accept a recommendation that a three-month trial be restricted
to the Gold Coast's northern suburbs.

The issue of the bus being located on the Coast on a permanent basis was
referred to a soon-to-be held coordination committee meeting.

Speakers from both pro and anti needle exchange bus perspectives will be
invited to address the meeting.

Whatever the outcome of the meeting, Cr McDonald said Cr Robbins, Cr Gamin
and herself would continue to fight against the service being established in
their respective divisions.

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MAP posted-by: Ken Russell