North Richmond Community Health will expand its community support services to include a trial supervised injecting facility.
According to North Richmond Community Health CEO Demos Krouskos, the trial will not only save lives, but support the wellbeing of the entire community.
“For too long, people have been dying on the streets of North Richmond,” says Krouskos. “Now, we can move forward. We now have an opportunity to save lives, to provide a pathway to treatment and rehabilitation, and to improve the wellbeing of the whole community.
“It’s no secret that drug use has been an issue in North Richmond for decades,” he explains. “The local community is incredibly resilient. But the impact of public injecting has taken its toll.
“By bringing drug users inside, we can get needles off the streets and create a safer environment for everyone.”
North Richmond Community Health welcomes discussion with any families who may have concerns about the impact of a supervised injecting facility on the wider community.
“We are absolutely committed to doing whatever is necessary to help the community feel safe,” says Krouskos. “Our door is always open to anyone who has concerns about a supervised injecting facility.”
North Richmond Community Health has been providing health and community services to North Richmond for over 40 years. Its Needle Syringe Program (needle exchange) has been operating for well over 20 years.
“Providing clean injecting equipment has helped protect the community from the spread of viruses like Hepatitis C and HIV,” explains Krouskos. “But we’ve always had to give people equipment and then send them away, knowing many people are likely to inject on the street, and even die.
“Now, we will be able to not only supervise people while they inject, but help them access counselling, medical care, and treatment.”
This historic development is the result of decades of committed work from activists and organisations across the alcohol and drug sector.
“This could not have happened if it weren’t for the hundreds of people across the years who have advocated for this change,” says Krouskos. “Thanks to their hard work and dedication, lives will change.
“As an organisation, we’ve seen the devastating effects of fatal and non-fatal overdoses first-hand,” says Krouskos. “We’ve seen its impact on families, friends, and entire communities. Finally, we have the chance to change that.”