North Richmond Community Health & CEH CEO supports campaign for supervised injecting rooms near Victoria Street.

Demos Krouskos, Chief Executive Officer of North Richmond Community Health (NRCH) strongly supports the campaign for a trial of a Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) in the North Richmond area.

“There has been a catastrophic failure of public policy in relation to heroin related deaths. These tragic events affect not only the individuals and their families but the entire community. Our staff attend these events on an almost daily basis. These are traumatic events especially for our community that witness our emergency and NRCH health care workers trying to save lives”.

The campaign has built momentum over the last few weeks and is now supported by local residents, businesses, the City of Yarra and health and community services. There is overwhelming evidence, both overseas and in Australia that SIF’s save lives.

“In 2015 173 people died from heroin related overdoses in Victoria. This is a 26% increase in the number of heroin related deaths from 2014 and about 20% of the 173 deaths were related to the Richmond area. These deaths are a tragic waste of human lives and are preventable.” Demos Krouskos said.

North Richmond Community Health has worked with the community in North Richmond since 1974. The centre has provided a needle and syringe exchange for over twenty years and this service has led to better health outcomes for people who inject drugs and the broader community, particularly in helping to prevent the spread of blood borne viruses like HIV and viral Hepatitis.

The centre builds on its strong community expertise by partnering with organisations like Alfred Health, LaTrobe University, the Burnet Institute and the Doherty Institute. This leads to a combination of new research and local knowledge when seeking new ways to improve the health of local residents.  

“This is not just a health issue; it is a moral issue and needs to be addressed urgently,” Demos said.

“NRCH has more than 40 years’ experience supporting our community. Our number one priority is to save lives and to keep all our community safe, including people who inject drugs. We have a strong relationship of trust that is vitally necessary if we are to effectively address this issue and prevent these tragic deaths from continuing to occur”.

This discussion is very timely as the City of Yarra is currently going through a consultation process with the community specifically looking at improving public safety in the North Richmond area.

For further information or interviews please call: Matthew Loads 03 94189927

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