Pubdate: Thu, 09 Sep 1999
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: News Limited 1999
Author: Lyn Dengate


I WAS disappointed to read statements by the Queensland premier, Mr Beattie,
and the Health Minister, Ms Wendy Edmond, regarding a trial of safe
injecting mains (Shooting galleries "immoral", 7/9).

Claims this is an "immoral" stand are simply outrageous. What is more
immoral is the Government sitting back and doing nothing while Queenslanders
die unnecessarily.

A month ago the Australian Democrats called on the Queensland Government to
introduce "safe injecting rooms". NSW has shown the way.

Safe injecting facilities are not a "breach of international drug protocol",
as Mr Beattie claims.

This is not a new concept; it is an approach that has had outstanding
success in The Netherlands and Switzerland. Both countries are now treating
heroin use first and foremost as a health problem.

They undertake a multi-level approach of which injecting rooms are a major
factor in reducing death by overdose.

Not only lives are saved by taking this approach, it also minimises risks
for individual drug users, their immediate environment and society.

Currently in Queensland people are out there injecting in public toilets,
parks, lanes, flats and units, contracting diseases such as HIV and
hepatitis C and sometimes dying.

Safe injecting rooms catch these people by bringing them in and trying to
improve their health status, trying to keep them alive and trying bit by bit
to restore their human dignity with a long-term goal of getting them off the

At the same time they reduce the chance of needles being left in public
places or people overdosing in public toilets.

In Queensland there are 11.4 deaths per million people by opiate-induced
overdose. In the Netherlands the figure is 4.5. It is simply not good enough
for the Queensland Government to be satisfied with this many deaths when
long-term trials have proven injecting rooms can cut the death toll.

Lyn Dengate, Queensland president Australian Democrats Inala. Qld

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