He said proposed solutions since the last meeting included moving the injecting room, reversing a council policy to remove graffiti only on government property in order to “clean up” the area, creating a “lede program” that connects drug users with social workers, and introducing a full rehabilitation facility rather than an injecting room.
The Andrews government extended the injecting room’s opening hours shortly after last month’s meeting.
The centre is open 7am until 9pm weekdays, 8am until 7pm on weekends – three more hours every day, aiming to make drug users less likely to shoot up in public and loiter in the area.
“What a shitstorm we created last time,” Cr Jolly said, “and now there’s movement at the station … it’s not fair for Richmond to take the burden for Melbourne.”
A petition against the injecting room was circulated before the meeting, followed by a presentation by one female resident that said there had been 31 incidents of aggressive drug user behaviour captured on camera in the past four weeks.
Residents took turns explaining their experiences and proposing solutions.
Local mother Christine suggested that “more injecting rooms open in Melbourne, so they don’t all come to Richmond” – drawing applause from the crowd – while one young woman’s request for more mental health services and extended hours at the injecting room brought groans and boos.
It brought a terse response from Cr Jolly.
“Can you please not shout down people when they’re having a crack? That’s not the way we do things here. I can hear your pain. I know you’re angry, and I want to hear it, but we’re looking for solutions here,” he said.