The (M)SIR (R)esident (A)ction (C)ommittee, or MRAC, represents a strong coordinated voice for residents of the Richmond, Abbotsford and East Melbourne area directly impacted by the current location and operating model of the Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR), currently the only such facility in the whole of Victoria. Specifically, we seek to urgently address the significant detrimental impacts currently being experienced within the surrounding community.
We are supportive of the MSIR as a progressive response to the issues associated with drug use and addiction in Victoria. We are, however, fundamentally opposed to the current trial location, as a result of the significant physical and psychological risks inherent in it being immediately adjacent to a primary school, community health centre, high density public housing, residential neighbourhood and significant (iconic) retail / dining precinct. It is the worsening detrimental impacts and ongoing risks to the local community that we are committed to addressing.
These risks emerge from two key issues associated with what goes on around the MSIR, being the lack of active policing in the surrounding area (so as not to dissuade users from accessing the MSIR) and the release of drug affected individuals (including ice users) en masse into the surrounding community post using the MSIR.
We are sincerely requesting the Victorian Government to mitigate these extreme risks by relocating the MSIR to a more appropriate site, away from these incompatible land uses.
In contrast to the current North Richmond trial location, the Sydney MSIR is subject to restrictions of the NSW Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substance Act 36F requiring it to have:
- sufficient level of acceptance, at community and local government level.
- regard for the proximity of the premises to schools, childcare and community centres.
The Victorian Government did not include these restrictions in the Victorian Act.
We are sincerely asking that schools, childcare and community centres are protected, a suitable alternative location identified and the MSIR relocated as a priority.
We want to ensure that never again, anywhere in Australia, does a community have to endure the detrimental impacts we are living every day:
- Children seeing ice and heroin addicts on their way to and from school.
- Needles and faeces on our residential streets.
- Erratic and violent behaviour in our community.
- Families being forced to move out of our once family-friendly neighbourhood.
- The elderly and new mothers being scared to access their community health centre.
- Businesses on the Victoria Street restaurant and retail strip being forced to close down.
There has been a large increase in these impacts since the MSIR opened.
The North Richmond MSIR opened in July 2018 as a 2 year trial, with potential extension. MRAC believes this trial can continue to save lives but in an appropriate location, without these extreme risks and impacts, governed by the same community protections implemented in NSW.
Relocation offers a long term sustainable path to success for the MSIR and should be pursued as a priority.