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Lord Mayor: community buy-in important for new safe injecting room

“There’s a lot of data in the report about why safe injecting rooms make a difference and also why the expert panel recommended that it goes into the City of Melbourne.”

The City of Melbourne was identified as having the second-highest public death toll in Victoria, with 51 recorded between 2015 and 2019 after the City of Yarra, which recorded 93 deaths.

Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said users had injected 144,000 times at the North Richmond centre.

“That is 144,000 injections not being carried out in the laneways, the alleys, the squats,” he said.

He said the review showed while crime rates had not risen, perceptions of safety in the area was “a real issue”.

There have been an estimated 119,000 visits to the North Richmond centre and 271 “extremely serious” overdoses, none of them fatal.

Cr Capp said it was really important to “bring the community along with you”, to have a chance to be involved in identifying the most appropriate site and to understand the impact on the community and the area.

“Of course any site is going to cause controversy, there are going to be objections that need to be listened to, but being part of a process that identifies the most appropriate site is really important for our community.”

Cr Capp said she’d like to see which other sites were considered and what criteria were met for the site.

“If it turns out after that discussion that this is the most appropriate, well that will be the decision,” she said.

The council would be working with the State Government to do a six-month community consultation about the site.

“Let’s bring everyone along for understanding why that is the best spot for achieving those outcomes,” she said.

“It is about saving lives but it is also about making sure we bring the community along with us. We don’t want to see this turn into a battle between competing interests.”

– With Bianca Hall and Noel Towell

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